SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — East Peoria patrolman Jeffrey A. Bieber has been named the “2021 Most Outstanding Officer of the Year” by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police (ILACP).
Bieber was also nominated for a Medal of Valor.
“But when our Awards Committee reviewed the nominations, it recommended an even higher honor, Officer of the Year, because of Officer Bieber’s bravery and sacrifice in a very intense encounter,” said ILACP Executive Director Ed Wojcicki.
On Feb. 2, Bieber responded to a domestic disturbance in East Peoria when he heard the suspect had just driven away in a truck. He followed a vehicle matching the description into a CVS parking lot.
Both the driver and passenger got out of the truck. Bieber saw blood on the driver’s hands and gave a medical assistance offer when he first engaged the driver, later identified as Joshua Crites.
At first, Crites appeared to be compliant, but then he pulled out a knife and attacked Bieber. Despite Bieber’s attempts to back away and make use of his taser, Crites continued to attack and stab Bieber repeatedly in the head and neck, damaging nerves and severing an artery, resulting in profuse bleeding.
Bieber ended up on his back with Crites on top of him. Bieber was able to reach for his firearm and shoot Crites, who died on the scene.
Bieber suffered serious injuries and was taken to a local hospital to undergo medical treatment, and only returned to work after a long recovery period.
After an investigation by the Illinois State Police, the Tazewell County State’s Attorney’s Office determined the shooting to be justified.
East Peoria Police Chief Rich Brodrick praised Bieber, not only for his sacrifice during and after the incident, but for being, “an outstanding officer serving and protecting the citizens of East Peoria every day.”
“This is one of those scenarios that can happen to any officer in any part of Illinois on any day,” Wojcicki said. “In fact, officers in Illinois face levels of noncompliance on a daily basis and are victims of physical and verbal violence. Bieber used his training to attempt less-than-lethal responses such as creating distance and deploying his Taser, but ultimately the situation put Bieber’s life in grave danger.”
The Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office employed Bieber as a full-time correctional officer in 2007. While attending Illinois’ Part-Time Police Academy, he began working in Hopedale as a part-time police officer in August 2008. His first full-time position was in North Pekin in May 2011. He also attended the Police Training Institute’s full-time transition course in Champaign, and in November 2012, he was hired by East Peoria.
He draws on his unique life experiences in his professional pursuits of serving the city and its residents.
“Officer Bieber exemplifies honor, courage, dedication, and humbleness,” Brodrick said. “He always has a kind smile and a great sense of humor.”