Three Lake County Sheriff’s Deputies and one Sheriff’s K9 received one of the highest honors in the State of Illinois, the ‘Illinois Law Enforcement Medal of Honor.’ They were presented with their awards by Illinois State Police Director Brendan F. Kelly at a ceremony in Springfield on May 31, 2023. This is the first time the ceremony has been held since 2016.
Deputy John Forlenza/Sheriff’s K9 Dax and Deputy Ray Gilbert received the award for a 2018 incident where the group responded to a burglary in progress. When they arrived, two offenders fled on foot. One was quickly apprehended, but a second continued fleeing, then stopped and pulled a firearm on the deputies. Sheriff’s K9 Dax distracted the armed offender and Deputy Gilbert fired at the offender, wounding him. Both Deputies Forlenza and Deputy Gilbert provided aid to the offender until the paramedics arrived.
Deputy Thomas Sieber received the award for a 2020 incident where he and the Sheriff’s Warrants Team were conducting an operation to take a man into custody who was wanted for homicide. As Deputy Sieber and other members of the team approached a residence, the offender exited a vehicle parked in the driveway and began shooting at the Warrants Team. Deputy Sieber, along with McHenry County Sergeant Daniel Kramer, returned fire, striking the offender. Members of the Warrants Team performed CPR on the man until the paramedics arrived.
Sheriff John D. Idleburg said, “I am incredibly proud of Deputies Forlenza, Gilbert, Sieber, and K9 Dax. This heroic group of deputies undoubtedly prevented innocent lives from being lost, while putting their own lives on the line. Congratulations to all four on receiving this deserved, prestigious award.”
At the ceremony, over 100 other law enforcement officers received the Illinois Law Enforcement Medal of Honor for their commendable actions during the last several years.