Top Cops and Obama

Top Cops award winners listen to remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama (C, foreground) in the Rose Garden at the White House. Standing with Obama are Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (R). (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst / May 12, 2012)

A Chicago Police sergeant was honored at the White House Saturday evening for successfully capturing two assailants in an armed robbery in the Hermosa neighborhood late last year.

The made-for-TV drama ended with the officer freeing six people – three of them children -- who had been bound with duct tape inside a store.

Srgt. Don Jerome, who works in the Grand Central district, received a TOP COPS award from the National Association of Police Organizations and was honored by both President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden during a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.

He was among 34 police officers from 10 different states honored by the Washington-based group.

Obama said the winners, whose awards were presented by TV actors who’ve played law enforcement characters, were “representative of the sacrifices and that quiet courage that exists among law enforcement officers all across the country.”

“I hope that we also pledge to learn something from the example that they set. Because while most of us will never be asked to run straight into a hail of bullets, or chase down an armed suspect on foot, we also have responsibilities to meet,” Obama said.

Jerome responded to an “armed robbery in progress” call at the 4100 block of West North Avenue on November 19, when he was met by a panicked woman who said that her store was being robbed, according to information provided by NAPO and Chicago Police News Affairs.

When he entered the store, Jerome saw a man run to the back and began searching for him. As he went through the store, Jerome discovered the six bound and frightened victims.

Jerome continued his search and came upon a second man. He tried to arrest him, but the two robbers attacked Jerome, kicking and hitting him.

At one point, one of the suspects struggled with Jerome and tried to disarm him while the other man fled the scene. While still wrestling with the sergeant, the offender dropped his weapon. Jerome tried to retrieve it and the man tried to flee.

Jerome caught up with that robber and they continued struggling, until they both crashed through the glass front door of the store and onto the sidewalk. The sergeant then was able to subdue the man with the help of a bystander while other officers who had responded to the robbery call helped arrest the other robber.

Jerome could not be reached for comment Saturday. His heroics helped clear a pattern of more than a half-dozen armed robberies, according to NAPO. 

cdrhodes@tribune.com