A Woodstock police officer was awarded “officer of the year” for saving the lives of six children who were found to be neglected and had to be transported to the hospital.
The McHenry County Chiefs of Police Association held its annual Officer of the Year banquet at the McHenry VFW last month.
The Woodstock Police Department nominated Woodstock Police Officer Lucas Schmidt for the 2022 award for his investigation into a truant student.
Schmidt, a school resource officer for Woodstock North High School, was made aware on September 13 about an enrolled student who had not yet attended a single day of school during the school year.
The school had been attempting to communicate and coordinate with the student’s mother but their attempts were met with little to no cooperation.
Schmidt, who knew that the student had additional needs, sensed that time was of the essence.
Schmidt conducted a well-being check with the absent student. He met with the mother at the front door of the residence.
She provided multiple unlikely excuses for why her child had not been to school, police officials said in the nomination.
“With SRO Schmidt’s friendly demeanor, yet engaging persistence, he was able to continue the conversation with the mother. Based upon his training and experience, SRO Schmidt began to suspect that the mother was concealing activity that may be endangering the health and welfare of the children,” the nomination said.
Other officers arrived and the mother was instructed that a safety sweep of the house was going to be conducted prior to police securing the site and obtaining a search warrant.
Officers discovered five children who were in various states of poor health and the residence was found to be in squalid conditions, police officials said.
Schmidt then located the high school student in a “clearly unhealthy state.”
Schmidt called for an ambulance to get the student to the hospital for immediate medical attention.
It was learned at the hospital that the student had suffered a broken leg that was not medically treated properly and also had other significant dietary deficiencies, police officials said in the nomination.
The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) responded to the scene to take all of the other children into protective custody.
The children were all transported to the hospital and were also determined to be in a state of malnourishment and sanitarily compromised.
Schmidt collaborated with members of the Woodstock Police Department Investigations Division over a period of time to conduct a thorough investigation for criminal charges.
The department said in the nomination that Schmidt’s actions “likely saved several children’s lives, or at a minimum, prevented further harm to their health and well-being.”
Several other officers from other McHenry County police departments were also nominated for officer of the year. Schmidt was selected to be the recipient of the award.
“Congratulations to Woodstock Police Department Officer Lucas Schmidt for this well-deserved award! We are so proud to have Officer Schmidt serving our community!” city officials said.