A local police officer was honored with a ceremony and meal yesterday for his heroic work in the line of duty.
Steven Helmich was presented a certificate by Glock on Thursday to purchase a new service weapon and given a donated meal by Mission BBQ in Springfield at the South Jacksonville Police Department.
Helmich is still recovering from being shot in the line of duty on March 26th as he and other officers attempted to take Daniel Payne of Tennessee into custody in rural Brown County after a three-county chase. Payne remains held at the Schuyler County Jail on attempted murder charges. He’s next due in Brown County Circuit Court on June 1st.
Helmich, who has been with Chapin Police since 2016 and its chief since January, was hit in his abdomen and upper left thigh during an exchange of gunfire with Payne. Helmich currently is walking with the aid of a cane, but says he’s steadily beginning to recuperate to full strength: “I still have a long road to recovery, but I do have physical therapy three times a week. I still have a lot of appointments with surgeons and doctors, but progress is being made. God has really blessed me with being healthy already, so it’s kind of helped with the recovery. I’m just taking it one day at a time.”
Helmich plans to be back to work some time in mid to late Fall.
Unfortunately, Helmich’s service weapon from March, which was his own personal weapon, is currently in the hands of the Illinois State Police forensics lab and may remain there for quite some time. Glock USA heard through the grapevine that he would need a new service weapon to return to work, and according to Glock District Manager Dustin Clark, they employed a program to help him get a new one: “We try to help fallen officers, officers that have been in officer-involved shootings. The State Police Crime lab takes their firearm for investigation. Chief Helmich, that was his own, personal firearm that he bought for duty use. With him being out and coming back to work, not having something like that, we wanted to help. This is a program where Glock appreciates his continued support of our product, but also, we appreciate his service to the community so we are just trying to do something to give back to him for that service.”
Helmich says the donations from the local and state police lodges and the Village of South Jacksonville and Village of Meredosia along with the ceremony was extremely humbling: “I moved away for a long time with the military. I moved back a few years ago. Jacksonville is my hometown. Morgan County is my hometown area and most of my family is here. The support that we have here just really shows why I moved back to the Morgan County area, why I serve the community, and why I am so grateful for everyone here. I am just very humbled by the show of support for law enforcement in general and certainly for me. I am just grateful to be here and grateful to be alive.”
Helmich was joined at the small event yesterday by members of the Village of South Jacksonville, Village of Chapin, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department, the Chapin & South Jacksonville Police Departments, and several close friends and family.