By Rachel Schaerr
A Montgomery County Police officer used a free iPhone app to catch dangerous criminals on two different occasions, earning him the "officer of the year" award at last month's Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce banquet.
Chris Solimano was the first officer to arrive at the Homestead Suites on Colesville Road last January where a masked man, carrying a sawed-off shotgun, forced his way into a hotel room and ordered seven people to the ground.
The next day, another armed robbery call came into the Montgomery County Police Department's Silver Spring office.
"A group of five individuals jumped a man from behind, beat him up and took his phone," Solimano recalls.
They were two completely different cases, with one thing in common: Solimano used the "find my iPhone" app to track down the suspects.
In one of the cases, Montgomery County police followed the GPS coordinates to a metro station. When officer Solimano activated the phone's alarm, it was obvious they had their guy."
"It started ringing in front of the officers," Solimano said.
Although Solimano recommends leaving this kind of police work up to the professionals, he admits there's something refreshing about catching a fool.
"I got to see the final result. I got to see the people arrested. I got to see them in handcuffs," he added.