By Dee Longfellow
On Monday, Oct. 23, at approximately 11:53 p.m. an Elmhurst police officer spotted a Ford Fusion sedan driving southbound on IL Route 83 at St. Charles Road. This vehicle had been reported as stolen on Saturday, Oct. 14, to the Chicago Police Department. As the officer followed behind the vehicle, it turned westbound onto Washington Street in Villa Park. The officer activated emergency lights to stop the vehicle and the stolen car pulled into a residential driveway on Riverside Drive in Villa Park. The driver of the vehicle then ran from the car towards the rear yards of the neighborhood.
Elmhurst and Villa Park police set up a perimeter and searched the area with a police K-9 unit and public safety drone. The offender was located by officers hiding in a shed belonging to a nearby resident. The offender was transported to the Elmhurst Police Department and the stolen vehicle was impounded. An additional set of license plates and a replica pellet pistol were located in the vehicle.
According to the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office, the offender was Maurice Sutton Jr., 31, of Hanover Park. He was charged with possession of stolen motor vehicle (Class 2 felony) and obstructing peace officer (Class A misdemeanor). Sutton was transported to the DuPage County Judicial Center and appeared at First Appearance Court on Tuesday, Oct. 24. The State’s motion to deny Sutton Jr.’s pre-trial release was granted, and his next court appearance was set for Monday, Nov. 13.
Police Chief talks about tracking suspects with K-9s, drones
In a subsequent interview, Elmhurst Police Chief Michael McLean commented on the modern-day usage of K-9 officers and drones.
“Searching for felony suspects hiding in the dark is not only difficult work, it can be dangerous.” he said. “In the past, police officers would fan out with flashlights to search for criminals, the officers not knowing until the last moment when they spot a suspect.
“K-9’s have been a great tool to assist officers more effectively track running suspects. However, even with a K-9, officers do not know if the suspect is hiding around the next corner or on top of a shed. EPD now uses our public safety drone as a first response tool in combination with K-9 units to more efficiently locate fleeing suspects and missing persons.
“The drone is able to see suspects hiding in darkness and the K-9 can track to buildings where the drone cannot see. Together, they allow police officers to more accurately search large areas in less time, resulting in criminal suspects being apprehended in a safe coordinated manner in our community.”
Chief McLean then explained the usage of drones, what training is required and who is authorized to operate them.
“The Elmhurst Police Department has five police officers that are also drone pilots,” he said. “Each has completed a 40-hour Unmanned Aerial Vehicle course certified by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board and passed the FAA licensing exam for drone operators. Our drone pilots receive ongoing flight training hours throughout the year in addition to emergency incident callouts.”
Members of the public are reminded that this release contains only charges and is not proof of the defendant’s guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.