Stanley: Former deputy gets first street collar ... 10 years after retirement
April 21, 2012 10:24PM
Romeoville resident James Baskin, a retired deputy for the Cook County Sheriff, recently tackled a purse thief at Meijer on Weber Rd. in Bolingbrook as seen Friday, April 20, 2012, in Romeoville. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 23, 2012 8:10AM
What started as a quest for Play-Doh turned into James Baskin’s first street collar … 10 years after his retirement.
Baskin, who grew up in Joliet, has had a varied career. He’s worked as a funeral director, he spent years as deputy at the Cook County Jail and has since gotten into ministry as a pastor in Chicago and chaplain at Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center.
“I’d joke I can kill you legally, embalm you and then preach at the funeral,” he said.
Besides training in different fields, Baskin also smoked in his younger years, which led to the lung surgery that forced his retirement from the sheriff’s office in 2002.
But Baskin rarely is able to relax at home — his youngest child is 11 and his oldest grandchild is 8.
On the afternoon of April 2, Baskin had to take his daughter to the Meijer on Weber Road in Bolingbrook to buy materials for a science project on “How to Make Play-Doh.” His grandson also came with.
“We were near the back of the store when I heard the scream for help. I looked and instinct just took over,” Baskin said.
The look showed:
A 69-year-old woman sitting in a motorized shopping cart gesturing wildly. An 18-year-old man running frantically toward the front door — clutching a purse in his hand.
Despite the substantial advantage of fresh legs and lungs, Baskin’s quarry was barely ahead of him at the front of the aisles where another woman pushed her cart out so the bandit had to pull up short and swerve. The extra two seconds were all Baskin needed to tackle him at the front door.
Store security arrived and detained Javion J. Ewing until Bolingbrook police arrived to arrest him on a charge of robbery for his alleged actions.
The victim, who police described as “unharmed but very frightened,” thanked Baskin as her purse was returned.
And Baskin’s grandson certainly was impressed.
“He said, ‘Grandpa, I didn’t know you could run that fast,’ and I said, ‘I didn’t either,’ ” Baskin said.
Baskin’s daughter called her mother from the store and he was gently reminded he is retired.
“I felt compelled to do it though. It could’ve been my wife or my mother,” he said.
Baskin then finished the job he’d come to do in the first place.
“Whole trip turned out OK for everyone. My daughter got an A on the project,” he said.