Stories of a Chicago Police Officer

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



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.”


How Stupid Can Stupid Be?

While patrolling the west end of the 17th District , I was driving over the Edens Expressway on the Wilson Avenue bridge. Traffic was slowing, and people were rubber-necking to catch a glimpse of the accident below on the expressway. The car in front of me came to an abrupt halt, blocked traffic, and stared at the scene below. I allowed him to absorb the activity and, after a liberal amount of time, I beeped my horn. The honk was met with the one fingered salute. I initially thought my blue and white squad car was invisible, but then I realized I had just found the stupidest person in the city.

I flipped the switch and activated the blue lights. I tapped the siren for a couple of quick bursts and was now making a traffic stop on my one fingered friend. While standing at his car door, I realized just how incredibly stupid this fellow really was. Laying on the passenger seat were a couple of clear plastic baggies. As I removed him from the car, I could see the “I fucked up” expression on his face. After he was secure, I retrieved a bag of grass and another baggy of powered cocaine. After yelling at this young man for a minute or two, I realized I did not have to do anything further. He was grimacing in agony at the mere thought of losing his newly acquired , but not paid for, drugs.

I walked him to the nearest sewer and ordered him to empty the baggies into the manhole. He pleaded and was nearly crying when he explained he was sorry about the one finger salute. A point was made after he disposed of his goods and was allowed to leave the scene with a only warning. He was now about two hundred dollars in debt for drugs that were making their way through the sewer system of Chicago. I felt satisfied that in the future he would look before antagonizing his fellow motorists.


Sex or Lunch?

I hate to say this, but when you have a new recruit working with you for the first couple of weeks, you treat him like he’s your first puppy. You can do whatever you want with him and he won’t beef. My regular partner, Dirk and I, were informed by the Captain that we would be receiving a new recruit as the third officer on the car. The first day I met George was a memorable one. After roll-call, we went to our assigned squad car, checked the outside for any damage, sat in the front seat, and introduced ourselves. I immediately informed George that we had one rule on this car: sex or lunch. I stared him in the eyes and gritted my teeth to prevent my laughter. He glared back and with a stammering hesitation said “I’ll buy lunch.” I smiled and said “Great”, then put the car in gear and drove off. After an uneventful and unusually quiet eight hour tour, we parted company after my free lunch. It happened to be my regular day off the next day, but that didn’t prevent me from calling Dirk, and explaining what I had done to the new recruit.

He chuckled and the conversation ended. The following day Dirk and George were teamed up for the first time. After roll-call and vehicle inspection, Dirk explained to George that we had only one rule on this car: sex or lunch. George, with no place to hide, or anyone to turn to, replied, “Lunch.” This pattern of psychological abuse went on for the remainder of the week with George thinking he was partnered with a couple of sexual psychopaths. After Dirk and I had free lunches for a week, we finally told George we were just screwing with him; it was all a joke. Between relief and anger, George was finally able to relax. To this day, 25 years later when we get together, all Dirk or I have to say is, “Sex or lunch” and George goes into his “Fuck you,” speech.

Closing Oak Street Beach

Every summer night in the 18th District a caravan of three wheeled motorcycles, squad cars, and a paddy wagon would make their way south from Fullerton Avenue Beach toward Oak Street Beach. The purpose of this gathering of police was to close the public beaches at curfew. This collection of blue and whites gathered on the “rocks” at Fullerton about 11:15PM on an unusually warm May evening. Coinciding with Saturday night’s later curfew, the beach closing was delayed for one hour. Being prom night, the caravan was expanded to include extra squad cars and a few more officers. This particular night we drove the rocks heading south along the beautiful Chicago Skyline announcing the beach closings on the car’s public announce system. Beach after beach, all was going well. As we slowly made our way to Oak Street, we observed a tuxedoed group of about 200-300 high school kids enjoying the fresh air on prom night. Having ignored our advice to leave the beach area after a few announcements, the PA was handed over to a rookie police officer.

He was instructed by our sergeant to announce that the beaches were closed and everybody had to vacate. The rookie gladly accepted his new role as mouth-piece for the Chicago Police Department. Holding the microphone a few inches from his lips, he ordered all to abandon the beach. Being a little overzealous he followed this up with, “And for those who do not immediately leave, we will lock your asses up.” In reply, 300 high school kids gave us a chorus of “Fuck You.” We all looked at each other and burst out laughing. We told the rookie: “Go get em.” After a little persuasion and emphasis with the blue lights and the occasional blast of the siren, the group of partygoers slowly made their way off the beach. A rookie learned his first police lesson: threats are always a last resort.


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