Stories of a Chicago Police Officer

30+ years of what it's like being an officer of Chicago

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Featured post

Introduction to my New Blog

Thank you for taking the time to read my short and true stories. Each of these stories is a part of my life that I enjoy sharing with others. I hope you find them as entertaining as most do; and I hope you leave with a better understanding how Chicago police operate. Although we are enforcers of the laws, we are also real people with real feelings and thought processes. We like to have fun, do our jobs, interact with people, and help solve problems (not always in orthodox ways).

This blog is just starting up, but I have plenty of material for it. I am expecting to post often and I am excited to hear from you, the reader as well. So, please be patient as I get this site in order and I hope these stories make you laugh. And who knows? Maybe you’ll learn how to get out of a ticket while you’re at it.

Featured post

Answer the Phone

While working the street, I decided to stop in the station to see what was going on. I was standing at the desk and the phone rang.  Naturally I answered it . The conversation went something like this:

Me: “16th District, how may I help you?”

Caller: “I want to beef about one of your fuckin police men.”

Me: “We don’t make pizzas here.”

Caller: “You don’t understand, I want to beef about one of your fuckin police men.”  Me: “You don’t understand, we don’t make any pizzas here.”

Caller: “Buddy, you don’t understand what I’m saying, I want to complain about a police man.”

Me: “Buddy, You don’t understand what I’m saying, we don’t make any fuckin pizzas here.”

Click. He hung up.

Meeting Louie

Returning to the 17th District, after being absent a few years, I was driving down Irving Park near Central Ave.  I looked to my right and observed a man sitting in a Lazyboy chair, fully extended, in the middle of the empty parking lot, sipping on a cold beer.  I pulled a u-turn and drove into the parking lot.  As I pulled alongside Louie, I was met with “Get the fuck out of my front room.”  I backed my squad car up and got out and reintroduced myself to Louie.  I explained to him that he should not yell at the police and to validate my point, I took the remaining four cans of beer and I placed them in a straight line in front of my tire.  I returned to my squad car and proceeded to run them over, watching Louie’s reaction as they burst,  beer and foam sprayed in all directions.  Louie’s expression was equal to that of a mother deer watching a wolf tear the life out of her new born faun.  I explained to Louie that with a little mutual respect, we could both exist on the same streets.  After that one disagreement, Louie and I went on to have a symbiotic relationship.  Although Louie would never become a snitch, a casual conversation with him provided you with the pulse of the neighborhood.  On occasion, I would throw him a bone, like lunch or beer money.  This was why I was probably the only police officer in the District who never had to fight with Louie.

Great Team Work

The tactical office had received a tip from an informant that a person wanted by the police would be at a pawn shop on Belmont Avenue.  The intelligence gathered on this fleeing felon stated  that he was heavily armed and would shoot it out with the police when stopped.  Quickly gathering officers in civilian dress, we setup around the pawn shop.  We had five marked squads in alleys and nearby parking lots prepared to block all traffic on Belmont when necessary.  We had pairs of undercover officers in the stores adjacent to the pawn shop. I was sitting across the street in a parking lot with another sergeant using binoculars to observe the front door.  One of the officers spotted  the offender parking his vehicle.  We wanted to do the takedown but there was too much pedestrian traffic so we allowed him to continue into the pawn shop.  I requested that the dispatcher give us the “air” and keep all other officers off the radio.  I announced to all the officers on the detail to be on their toes.  After a few minutes, the felon completed his business and emerged.  As he stepped onto the sidewalk, the Sergeant and I shouted on our respective radios to take him down.  Within seconds, the streets were blocked.  He spotted the officers running toward him from across the street.  This allowed officers from the adjoining storefronts to bum rush him and take him to the ground with him never being able to draw the .357 magnum from his waistband.  Great takedown!  No officers injured, one very bad guy in handcuffs, and within a few minutes the area was returned to normal.  It is a phenomenal feeling when a plan of that magnitude comes to fruition.  But, it pays off to work with some of Chicago’s finest police officers.

Boom, He’s Down

A great gag we  pulled on recruits went awry.  During a typical traffic stop, a salty veteran would search the vehicle, while the recruit would guard the driver standing by the squad car.  I pretended to search a vehicle this one time, and pulled my own gun from my holster and held it up for the recruit to see.  I shouted out “Look what I found.”   Normally the recruit would simply handcuff the subject and maybe curse him a bit.  My new recruit flattened this driver with a round house that Joe Fraser would be proud of, screaming “You dirty bastard!” I jumped out of the car and stopped the recruit from pummeling this guy.  I picked the guy up, choking back laughter while I brushed the dirt off his shirt.  I pulled out my handkerchief and dabbed the bloody corner of his mouth, as I attempted to explain the joke that I just pulled on my new recruit.  Luckily, this fellow was a sport, although not a very happy one.  We parted ways with an earnest apology and we walked back to the squad car with our tails between our legs.

I Thought It Was Funny

Officer Ron and I were working beat 1732 and stopped into the station for him to use the washroom.  I sat in the car, bored. I took Ron’s ticket book and opened it to the next citation to be issued.  There are 5 copies of the traffic citation and the yellow copy goes to the traffic violator.  On the backside of the yellow copy, in very small print I wrote “You’re a jagoff.”  Then I put everything back in order.  When Ron returned to the squad car, I suggested that we write some tickets and make our sergeant happy.  Soon afterward, we stopped a violator for going through a red light, and Ron issued him a citation. Thirty minutes later, we were summoned to the District, and Ron was directed to see the Watch Commander.  I stood outside the Watch Commander’s office listening.  After getting his ass handed to him, he stomped out the station cursing under his breath.  I caught up with him and asked him what happened.  When I burst out with laughter he immediately new I was the culprit.  Boredom is what you make of it.

A Lost Person

With longevity and seniority, common sense and  respect should follow…

Working beat 1722 for a while, I got to know certain people on the beat and repeat callers.  One caller happened to be the daughter of a man suffering with Alzheimers.  A couple of times a month, he would wander away causing great anxiety in his daughter, his sole care-giver.  After my first contact with the missing person, I realized  that he happened to be a retired Chicago Police Officer.  After returning him home one afternoon, I stayed down on the job and drove to the closest hospital.  I requested and received a plastic informational bracelet that they place on patients entering surgery.  With his name, address and phone number on it, I drove back to his house and the daughter gratefully secured it on his wrist. When the next time came that he was on the loose again, if I could locate him I would quickly notify the daughter because I now had her phone number.  I would then place my missing person in the front seat of the squad car and “go on patrol.”  On occasion, if the radio was quiet, I would take my new partner to Dunkin Donuts for a reminder cup.   After he got a taste of “policing”, I would return him to his loving daughter.  Having  explained where we went she was elated to see the huge smile on his face.  Then and there I realized that some of the more important things in life are small and that our time should be used wisely, and not only spent on law breakers.

What Do You Mean a Dead End?

As a new arrival to the 17th District, I probably wasn’t the best choice for this assignment.  I was assigned to  block traffic on Peterson Avenue after a request from the fire department to shut down all traffic while they battled  a raging house fire.  I quickly arrived at my post and swung the squad across Peterson blocking both Westbound lanes.  I stood by my car with flashing blue lights and disposed of the vehicle traffic down the side street.  After a few minutes I noticed that the traffic coming out of the side street looked very familiar. I had been sending the cars down the side street that ran into a culd-da-sac and they were returning in full force.  Nobody looked very happy.

Sergeant Gets Ambushed

Police work is difficult enough, then you run into a person who has an cold-blooded hatred for the police.  I just started my shift in the old 18th District.  It was customary for me to receive the most unflattering assignments because of my recruit status.  I was dispatched to Henrotin Hospital to guard a prisoner who woke up one day and decided to kill a Chicago Police Officer.  After creating a barricade to block an alley, the offender called 911 and reported shots fired to the dispatcher.  The 911 operator dispatched the call as shots fired in an alley where a Sergeant happened to be close by.  He slowly made the transition from the street to the alley, attempting to be as stealthy as a blue and white squad car would allow him.  He drove down the alley with an ear out the window, listening intently for the sounds of danger.  Squinting his eyes, he spotted something half way down the alley.  Garbage cans and other debris blocked the alley.  With the hair on his neck standing up, the Sergeant stopped short and quickly exited his squad.  Before he had time to find cover, a man appeared directly in front of him pointing a .22 caliber sawed-off riffle at his mid-section.  The Sergeant had drawn his revolver and with the drama of the old wild west, he and the unknown assailant stared into each other’s eyes.  The Sergeant fired first, striking his assailant twice.  The first round struck the attacker directly in the knee and the second round found his other leg, separating the bone just above the knee.  The offender was down.  Recovering the rifle and scanning the yards and bushes for other assailants, the Sergeant screamed out his situation over the police radio.  Within seconds squad cars poured into the alley.  The lone gunman was eventually loaded into an ambulance and I was now guarding him at Henrotin Hospital.

Now for the other part of the story.  As I relieved the earlier police guard, I was informed that this guy had a broken bone above the knee and the other leg had a bullet lodged in the kneecap.  Both his knees by now, had swollen to size of watermelons.  This guy was going nowhere.  Just the same, I handcuffed one of his wrists to the bed rail, just to make him a little more uncomfortable.  He did try to kill a Chicago Police Sergeant.
About a half hour after I started my guard duty, a male attendant came to take this arrestee to x-ray, before continuing on to surgery.  Chit-chatting as I walked alongside the gurney with our arrestee, I noticed that his feet were stretched over the edge of the gurney in order to make him more comfortable.  Waiting for the elevator, the young attendant asked what the patient had done to get shot by the police.  I informed him about the ambush he set for the responding officers.  I explained that miraculously, his .22 caliber rifle jammed, and the Sergeant was able to defend himself without being harmed.  The elevator doors slowly opened and without alerting me, the attendant pushed the gurney into the elevator and bounced the arrestee’s feet off the rear of the elevator wall.  The screams echoed off the inside of the elevator, and I immediately felt sympathy pains shoot into my knees. The attendant looked at me and with a very calm voice announced, that it was so morally wrong for anyone to attempt to kill a police officer.  After a lingering smile, the attendant pushed the button and the elevator began to move. We do have friends out there.

It Could Have Been Real Bad

Officer Dick and I were driving down Montrose when we were flagged down at about the 3700 block.  A frantic man was shouting:  “He has a gun.”  Dick and I broadcast the information we gathered from the hysterical victim and went to the front door of a moving company.  Drawing our weapons and counting 1,2,3, we rushed through the front door.  Sitting at a desk just five feet inside was our offender.  Dick and I instinctively moved right and left, all the while aiming our pistols at the seated target.  In unison, we continued to shout, “Show me your hands,”  and after a few very, very long seconds, the offender placed his hands on top of the desk.  Sitting in his lap was a cocked .45 caliber automatic.  My gun still trained at his head, Dick reached in and recovered the fully loaded 45.  After handcuffing the subject, Dick and I came to the realization of just how close we came to killing this person, or even worse, being shot by this guy.  In situations like this one, training and experience kick in and your body just seems to go on automatic pilot. You look back and try and decide how and why you made certain decisions and you realize it was all done subconsciously.

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