Will the Real Thomas J. Smrt please stand up!

Just about the time you think this guy is the Mayor of Crazy Town, you come across this story:
Friendly phone calls are in short supply at the police station.

So when a local business owner called the Cary Police Department to offer a gift, Lt. Dave Burman nearly dropped the receiver. It's a rare citizen who takes the time to utter nice words to local law enforcement; rarer still is someone offering to make a contribution

"I was totally shocked," Burman said. "Usually when people call, it's because there's something wrong or they're angry."

Thomas J. Smrt, owner of Fox Valley Systems Inc., wasn't peeved, hadn't just gotten a traffic ticket, and didn't need a favor.

Smrt's paint manufacturing company has had a few occasions to summon police assistance during its 25 years in business in Cary. So he was calling to return the support, Burman said.

Burman and Police Chief Robert Levitt wasted no time in taking him up on his offer. The department's brass had identified two equipment needs during a meeting before Smrt's call and quickly relayed those deficiencies to their benefactor.

Their requests were fulfilled Wednesday morning, when a new booking camera and 25 "First Response" pocketknives were delivered to the police station, courtesy of Fox Valley Systems.

The camera will replace the department's antiquated model--"it has more down time than up time," Burman said--and add another tool to each officer's equipment belt.

The knives are designed for emergency situations in which police officers responding to motor vehicle accidents need to quickly cut an injured motorist free from a seat belt, Levitt said. The knives also contain a window punch, useful for getting quick access to an accident victim.

The gifts are more than a donation, they're a challenge to other business owners, according to Lou McMahon, the Fox Valley Systems representative who made the presentation.

"(Smrt) would like other industries to follow his lead. So many departments go without some of the things they need," McMahon said. "It makes him happy to return favors for all the work the department does."

The police department would have paid about $2,000 for the equipment, according to Levitt.

Smrt's contacts and purchasing power enabled him to buy the items for considerably less, McMahon said, although he declined to place a dollar figure on the donation. The $1,000 line item for a replacement camera in the police department's budget will likely be allocated to other projects, Levitt said.

In addition to issuing a challenge to other business owners, McMahon said, Smrt wanted to offer this proposal to all citizens: Make a friendly gesture toward the police department, and wave at officers when they're out patrolling the community.

That, too, would be a welcome display of support, Levitt said, as long as citizens remember to use all their fingers when they wave



Page: 4

Column: McHenry watch. Law enforcement.


Copyright 1996, Chicago Tribune

Record Number: CTR9605310138

But Wait!  This next story will "tip it in!"

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