For only the third time in 10 years, the Lombard Police Department has presented the Award of Valor to a member of its staff.
Officer Scott Jean received the honor during last week's village board meeting.
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"This is not an award that we present very often," Chief Raymond Byrne said. "It's really reserved for some very significant incidents."
Byrne said Jean recently was assigned to a "harassment by telephone" report. After meeting with the resident who was being harassed, Jean attempted to contact the offender by calling him multiple times.
On a recent night around 3:30 a.m., Jean went alone to the offender's residence and knocked on the door to talk to him.
On the second knock, the door swung open and Jean found himself staring down the barrel of a gun.
"He's got to deal with this in less than a split second because he can lose his life," Byrne said. "He's got to exit that kill zone, he's got to try to neutralize that offender and he's got to try to find cover."
Byrne said Jean did the right thing by taking a step backward but, because he was on the edge of a porch, he began to fall backward.
"What he had the presence of mind to do while he was falling backward was to unholster his handgun and fire three rounds at the offender," Byrne said. "Those three rounds fired at the offender caused him to drop his handgun so that officer Jean could then collect himself, run in an eastbound direction where he met up with a backup officer, got on the radio (and) called out that shots were fired."
Other officers responded and took the offender into custody at his residence, Byrne said. They found a loaded handgun at the scene.
"When I think about the deck of cards he was dealt that night and the situation he was placed into, I don't think he could have done a finer job of handling himself, protecting himself and keeping everyone else safe," Byrne said.
Jean's reaction, Byrne said, was a credit to "his own instincts and, hopefully, to the training that we've provided to him over the years while he's been here."
"The department is extremely proud of you," Byrne added as he presented the medal to Jean. "Until you're actually in this situation, none of us knows how we're going to act, how we're going to recover, how we're going to perform. You performed admirably, literally in the face of death."