Elburn police chief receives award for his support of Marine reservist

By on October 24, 2013

ELBURN—Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith was recognized on Monday night for his support of U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Staff Sargent and part-time Elburn police officer Ben Pepich.

Pepich, who recently returned from a one-year deployment, nominated Smith for the “Patriotic Employer Award.” Pepich, who has been a police officer with the Elburn department for three and a half years, said that he has had “nothing but support” from Smith regarding his military service.

Smith received the award from Michael Holub, a Department of Defense representative and public affairs director for the Department’s Illinois Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

Village President Dave Anderson after the presentation signed a Statement of Support publicly recognizing the important role of the National Guard and Reserve.

Pepich explained that many of his fellow Marine reservists have had a lot of problems with their employers, and that he has never had that experience in Elburn.

“He doesn’t second-guess me,” Pepich said.

Pepich suggested that Smith’s perspective may come from the fact that he is a former Marine.

“Chief Smith is happy for me to learn valuable skills that will make me a better police officer for the organization,” Pepich said. “Chief Smith has made me feel secure and proud of being in the Marine Corps Reserve.

Calling Smith a “solid leader,” Pepich said he felt appreciated by Smith and that he didn’t have any fear of losing his job.

“It’s a two-sided street,” Anderson said. “We’re very proud, and I think (Steve) should be proud.”