Police Chief Tom Aftanas (right) presents the Award of Valor to Sergeant Nick Defors (center) and Officer Benito Marti (left) | Shanel Romain, Contributing Photographer

“It wasn’t because of luck that the situation ended peacefully,” said Police Chief Tom Aftanas on March 16 during a ceremony recognizing officers of the Forest Park Police Department (FPPD) for their performance during a Jan. 14 armed stand-off.

The standoff between police and a man inside an apartment on the corner of Marengo Avenue and Harvard Street lasted over two hours.

“It was the longest two hours of my life,” Aftanas said. But he said he was proud that the police on the scene “worked as a team, trusted in each other, and relied on their training to end the situation peacefully.”

“It made me extremely proud, as your chief, and you should be proud of yourselves,” Aftanas said, addressing the officers gathered in the room.

Sergeant Nick Defors and Officer Benito Marti were presented with the Award of Valor, which is granted “for an act of outstanding bravery or heroism by which a member has demonstrated in great degree the characteristics of selflessness, personal courage and devotion to duty,” said Aftanas.

 Defors was involved in speaking directly to the armed subject for over two hours via a bullhorn, often with the subject’s gun pointed directly at him. He was “calm as can be,” said Aftanas.

Marti was on watch, armed with a rifle for two hours straight.

Other members of the FPPD received an Award of Merit for their handling of the situation, including Deputy Chief of Police Ken Gross, Lieutenant Chris Chin, Detectives Jarlath Heveran and Michael O’Connor, and officers Brendan Reilly, Lauren Battistoni, Tom Cannon and Mohammad Awad.

Village Administrator Tim Gillian also received an Award of Merit. He was on the scene of the stand-off as well, speaking with a family member of the armed subject, at times with the subject’s gun pointed directly at him.