Stories of a Chicago Police Officer

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

Lincoln Towing and the Train

Officer Tom, my Field Training Officer was a very personable man with a hearty laugh. Tom and I were handling a money disturbance at Lincoln Towing.  Tom thought I should handle this one alone to hone my police skills, as he sat in the squad car and observed.  I was listening intently and allowing both sides of this disturbance to present their cases.  My attention was drawn to a faint train noise in the distance.  I was listening to the caller explain that his automobile was parked legally when it was towed and he should not have to pay the towing charge.  I continued to hear the noise from an advancing train.  As I was listening, I visually examining the railroad tracks outside the window,  wondering how weeds can grow on working train tracks.  As the other side of the dispute was being presented, I still heard an approaching train.  I stared intently out of the window, inspecting every inch of rusted train track, attempting to figure out how a train can use a set of tracks with weeds a foot or higher growing between them.  I finally shut out the complainant completely.  I walked outside the small glass cubical to see Tom sitting in the squad car laughing hysterically.  I walked over to him and discovered that he had taken the microphone from the public address system and was slowing rubbing it up and down his pant leg, then progressively faster and faster until it sounded exactly like a train.  Experiences like this are exactly why I mess with recruits.

A Teaching Moment

While working with a recruit in the 17th District, we stopped a vehicle for expired license plates.  The surrounding apartments had their windows open, caching the late afternoon breeze.  The car stop went as planned, until we were back in the squad writing the citation.  The offending driver approached the driver’s side of the squad car and, nonchalantly, dropped his hand inside the open window, offering a ten-dollar bill.  Looking at the recruit, I nodded to the money and said “Watch this.”  I picked up the microphone, and after a quick blast or two of the siren, I made an announcement.  I explained to the onlookers and those people now hanging out of the apartment windows, that the man at the driver’s side window of the squad car had a ten-dollar bill in his right hand.  I explained that we were honest police officers and that he was trying to bribe us into not writing him a ticket for expired plates.  I continued that we worked for the fine citizens watching us and we were disappointed in his actions.  He withdrew his offer and shamefully shuffled back to his automobile to wait for the citation.  He received it and we left the scene, to applause from the large group of onlookers that had gathered.  I taught the recruit that ten dollars was not worth your soul or your job.  I’ll bet he remembers that to this day.

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Bookstores: Barnes and Noble/Amazon

If you’re interested. The book is finally available in soft and hard cover. I had to rewrite the book to satisfy the legal people. I am now know as Murphy. I also included thirty more stories in the revised edition. I hope you enjoy every story.
Here is the  Barnes and Noble site for the soft and hard cover books.

And here is the Amazon link:

Look in the Sky, It’s a Bird. It’s a Plane…

When outside agencies, such as suburban police departments, or federal agencies like the FBI or DEA, come into a Chicago Police District, they are supposed to notify the Watch Commander of that district. This is normal protocol out of respect, but more importantly, if something goes wrong, the district will already have the knowledge to assist them better. The following fiasco occurred when this protocol was ignored. We just started our afternoon shift in the 17th District when a radio call was broadcast about a small air plane having difficulty, and possibly trying to land in Horner Park. Naturally a call like that attracted a lot of attention. Soon afterward, Horner Park looked like the district station at check off. Almost all of the patrol cars
sped there and were now observing the small aircraft circling Horner Park. After numerous conversations about the situation over the police radio, we were finally ordered to return to our respective beats. It seemed that the Drug Enforcement Agency was conducting surveillance on a drug house a block west of the park. A large drug buy was about to go down, and part of their surveillance included the low flying spotter plane. They failed to notify the Chicago Police and as such, the surveillance was blown. Drug dealers have police scanners too.


I Got Mine. Go Get Yours

Winter in the 17th District was kinda slow at times. Working a beat car, Officer Dirk and I were driving the side streets looking for any suspicious people to stop. Being close to Christmas, we’re hoping to grab a burglar. Just North of Irving Park Road there were a lot of break-ins, so Dirk and I concentrated our search in that area. As we headed down one of the many side streets visited that day, Dirk spotted two guys standing at the mouth of the alley. I threw the squad toward them and off they went. Fish-tailing around the turn, then spinning tires down the alley, it was fairly easing to catch up to them because of the six inches of snow. The squad car’s tires glided down the deep ruts and within seconds, we were positioned between the runners. I swung my door open knocking down the one on my side. As he slid on his face down the alley, I stop the car and shouted to Dirk, “I got mine, go get your’s.” I was on top of offender number one in a flash. Dirk on the other hand was now trudging down the alley in the tire rut cursing and running, cursing and running. Eventually, he came back with offender number two.
Two drug dealers hit the slammer. But more importantly, I got to screw over Dirk. What a wonderful day.


The Girls will Protect me.

As a recruit, my Field Training Officer Tom would explain things while en route to jobs. On the way to a bar fight, Tom told me to follow his every move and only do what he does. I explained I was ready and as we pulled up to the front of the bar we could see that there was a lot of activity inside the place. When the squad car screeched to a halt, I jumped out and forgot everything I was just taught and made a dash for the tavern door. Nightstick in hand and a superman’s attitude, I started in the front door. I was met by three gorgeous women who quickly grabbed my arms and marched me back out of the ruckus explaining that I was too young to get hurt. As I was being escorted back out, the real police ran in and stopped the mini riot. As I was talking to my new lady friends, Tom walked by and just grinned.


Long Distance Car Chase

While working the midnight shift with my old friend Frank, a call of a robbery in progress was dispatched.  Being too far away to make an impact, Frank and I slowly headed toward the scene observing vehicles traveling the opposite way. We were trying to get a look at the possible offender leaving the scene.  A second call was soon broadcast: “Officers were now chasing the fleeing robbery offender.”  The chase took the main streets until the armed felon jumped the expressway attempting to elude the police procession.  Frank and I were the furthest from the chase, but we continued out of boredom.

Traveling North on the Edens Expressway and eventually finding ourselves on North bound I-90, we were starting to outrun our radio capabilities.  The last thing we heard was the dispatcher calling all non-essential cars off the chase.  Frank and I looked at each other and said “I didn’t hear that, did you?”

Proceeding along at about 90 miles per hour, the fastest this car would go, we found ourselves just over the Wisconsin border following hand signals from local Deputies and Sheriffs signaling the way. We pulled up on the outskirts of a corn field just as Chicago Officers were walking a handcuffed suspect back to their squad car.  The weapon was recovered as well as the robbery proceeds.  A wagon was called to transport the prisoner.  Great job by the Chicago Police. Almost.

During the chase through the toll gates, the Chicago cars had broken every one of the wooden toll arms but one.  A Chicago Sergeant was standing at the toll booths discussing the damages with a Tollway supervisor when the responding wagon approached.  Scooting by at about 50 miles per hour the wagon veered from the inner lane to the outer lane and took out the last toll gate left intact.  The Sergeant just shook his head and completed the report needed to pay for the damages.  You just can’t take the kid out of police work


Poor, Poor Recruit


Officer Dave was fresh out of the Chicago Police Academy.  I was charged with showing Dave around and teaching him the fundamentals of street work.  Lesson number one was keeping the sergeant happy.  We did this by writing some parking tickets around the intersection of Lawrence and Kedzie.  As Dave and I approached the intersection heading south on Kedzie, we were delayed by the traffic light. I spotted a car across the street parked on a fire hydrant in front of a restaurant.  I instructed Dave to start writing the parking citation, and after the light turned green, I would pull across the street and he could lean out the car and place the citation on the offender’s windshield.

The ticket was almost completed, the light turned green, and across the street we went.  Dave exited the squad car and placed the citation on the windshield.  Just as he returned to our car, a tactical police officer came running out of the restaurant screaming at the top of his lungs, “What the fuck are you doing?  We have to pay those fucking tickets.  What the hell’s the matter with you?”  Dave had just ticketed an unmarked squad car.  He looked at me for help.  I just sat in the squad car laughing.  I let the tact officer vent a little and then I stepped forward and resolved the issue.  The citation was taken care of and Dave got to meet some tact officers from the district.  Dave later asked me if I knew that was an unmarked squad car and I just smile and shrugged.  However, it’s very difficult to miss those license plates that start with a big “M.”


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