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Mundelein Police Officer Lends a Hand, Earns Well-Deserved Praise

Mundelein Police Officer Katie Smith recently went above and beyond by lending a helping hand to a homeless woman who was living out of her car. During routine patrols, Officer Smith was called to a shopping center parking lot on Maple Avenue near Midlothian Road, after the property managers reported a car had been parked there for an extended period of time.

Smith encountered a woman in her 60s, who said she was homeless and couldn't start her sedan because the battery was dead and the vehicle didn't have any gas.
Officer Smith arranged for Ernie's Wrecker Service of Vernon Hills to come over to give the car a jump -- for free. At the same time, Officer Smith's colleague Officer Dan Schmidt made a couple of trips to the corner gas station to fill a gas can. Smith paid for the $16 worth of gas, declining to submit the receipt for department reimbursement or split the cost with her supervisor.

"Rather than just say, 'You gotta go,' Katie took it upon herself to figure out the situation," Police Chief Eric Guenther expained. "Her actions exemplify how I really want our officers to respond. It's the whole crux of community policing."

The police department posted the story of Smith's interaction with the homeless woman on its Facebook page. Since then, the posting has garnered almost more than 6,000 likes and hundreds of comments praising the officer's actions.

Smith, who doesn't have a Facebook page, said she didn't know about the post until she was told by a dispatcher. She thanked everyone for sending kind words her way.

"In this circumstance here with this woman, she literally didn't have anybody," Smith said. "You just want to do the right thing and not make anybody's life more difficult than it already is."
The officer referred the woman to various services available for the homeless in Lake County. The woman told her she planned to go to a shelter in Waukegan.

Smith has received a number of commendations during her 21-year tenure with the police department. Guenther said she would receive another one in recognition of her recent actions.

Here are just a few of the Facebook comments Officer Smith received from grateful residents:

“That was wonderful. We definitely need more stories like this and more people in authority to act like this. Way to go Officer Smith for doing the RIGHT thing.”
“This may have been the first bit of kindness the homeless woman had been shown in a long time. Well done.”

“Good Work Officer Smith and MPD for forward-thinking and displaying your department and officer as a ‘global’ policing agency who serve all community members. Unselfishness and courage are shown in many ways and this unselfish action needs not only to be exemplified but never stopped.”

“Thank you for assisting this woman. We were at work praying for a positive outcome to this situation. Thank you for handling the situation the way you did. I can’t wait to tell my coworkers this story had a happy ending!”

“Mundelein Police Department is one of the few that is humane and always willing to help in any way they can. Great job officer Smith…I'm so glad and grateful there are officers out there like you and who live in the same town!”

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