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.”