CHICAGO (CBS) — A 29-year-old Chicago Police officer has been named the Police Memorial Foundation’s Officer of the Month for saving the life of an eight-month-old boy. Officer Paul Pulkownik did not pull the infant to safety in the middle of gunfire or from a burning building. Instead, this past Spring, he gave the boy more than one liter of bone marrow from his lower back. The boy has a condition that needed marrow to save his life. Chicago Police Memorial Foundation executive director Phil Cline said, “Officer Pulkownik is a true hero who volunteered to go under the knife to help a young boy — a sacrifice of giving to others unselfishly.” Click here to watch video and to continue reading.

On June 12th around 6:45 pm, 10th District Field Training Officer Mark J. Palazzolo and his recruit, Officer Maritza Bautista, were called to a house in the 2300 block of South Lawndale Avenue, after a 26-year-old woman had called 911 to say her baby was not breathing. Upon arriving at the house, the Officers found the woman inside a tiny bath room holding an unresponsive new born baby in her hands. The woman had just given birth in the bathroom during her 34th week of pregnancy. Field Training Officer Palazzolo immediately assessed the situation and relayed to the 911 operator what he observed and began a dialogue with the Fire Department dispatcher. Palazzolo saw the umbilical cord was still attached and learned from the dispatcher to pinch the cord closed to prevent further damage to the premature little girl. Officer Bautista tried to calm and comfort the mother, giving her verbal instructions, attempting to keep the mother from panicking while Officer Palazzolo started CPR on the newborn. Officer Palazzolo gently took the child from its mother’s hands and began puffing breaths into the tiny lungs followed by gentle chest compressions. The Officers continued these acts for four minutes until the Fire Paramedics arrived and transported the baby to Mt. Sinai Hospital where it was treated, became responsive and eventually stabilized. If you ask these Officers about this event, they are humble and respond that they are “just doing their job”. In fact, this is yet another fine example of the daily work done by police officers who work to arrest the criminal before he can commit another crime, return a lost child to a frantic parent, or comfort a victim when they need it the most. This is what a Chicago Police Officers do all over the city on a daily basis, and this morning, we are proud to honor Field Training Officer Mark J. Palazzolo and Probationary Police Officer Maritza Bautista as our Officers of the Month for October.

CHICAGO (CBS) — After helping revive a baby who was born premature and unresponsive, two Chicago police officers have been named the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation’s officers of the month. Ogden District Field Training Officer Mark Palozzolo and a new recruit, Officer Maritza Bautista, responded to a 911 call of an infant girl who wasn’t breathing on June 12. “The woman had just given birth during her 34th week of pregnancy,” said Phil Cline, executive director of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. “The officers found the woman inside a tiny bathroom, holding an unresponsive newborn.” Click here for entire CBS story and video.

On July 21st around 1:30 pm, Officer Victoria Mendoza and her partner Officer David Perez, assigned to the Deering District, responded to a “armed robbery just occurred call” in the 4300 block of south Ashland. Officers Mendoza and Perez monitored a flash message with a description of the suspects and spotted them as they crossed Ashland Avenue. The Officers exited their squad and the suspects turned and fired shots at the Officers. Officer Perez chased after the suspects on foot and Officer Mendoza quickly realized she had been shot in the knee by one of the suspects. While Officer Perez continued his chase, the suspects again shot at him. Although injured, Officer Mendoza remained calm, called in that she needed an ambulance and eventually applied a tourniquet to slow down the bleeding from her gunshot wound. Officer Mendoza continued to announce the direction of her partner so responding officers could assist him. Meanwhile, Officer Perez chased the suspects who entered a getaway vehicle that took off quickly, then stopped suddenly and the suspects ran out of the vehicle. One of the suspects again fired shots toward Officer Perez. The suspects ran separate ways and Officer Perez followed one who climbed a fence into an alley. The other suspect confronted a man in an alley and tried to carjack the man’s van but when the suspect couldn’t open the door, he shot out the windows. Officers responded to the gunfire and the suspect drove the van forward then placed it into reverse, pinning the other suspect into a garage before driving away. The wounded suspect crawled into the garage to hide from the police but was captured by Officer Perez. Police located the original getaway vehicle and found a 40 caliber handgun on the front seat. The driver of the vehicle was arrested after he came back to get the vehicle. The van was discovered abandoned a mile from the shooting. Days later, the third suspect who stole the van was captured. The investigation revealed the suspects had robbed a cellular store, ziptied customers and employees while threatening them with guns. All were charged with robbery and two with attempted murder. Officer Victoria Mendoza served in the military before joining the Chicago Police Department. Officer Perez has returned to the street while Officer Mendoza continues to recover from her gunshot wound. We salute both Officers and commend them for their courageous battle with armed suspects that afternoon. We thank them for their service to our country, and our city, and are proud to honor them as our Officers of the Month for September.

Martin Hernandez and Joel Lopez On May 12, 2017 Officer Martin Hernandez and his partner Officer Joel Lopez were working as plainclothes tactical officers in the Harrison district on Chicago’s west side. The officers observed what they believed to be a drug transaction between a woman and a man on the 4600 block of Maypole. As Officer Hernandez exited their vehicle to investigate, the woman clutched at her side and ran away from the officers. Officer Hernandez believed the woman was concealing a firearm and immediately chased her on foot. The woman – a felon on bond for aggravated assault of police officer in February of this year – turned and shot at the officers. One of the bullets struck Officer Hernandez in the chest. Both Officer Hernandez and Lopez returned gunfire and the woman was shot in her upper body. A handgun was recovered at the scene. Thankfully, Officer Hernandez was wearing his bullet proof vest which saved his life that afternoon. Both Officers were taken to Loyola Medical center and released later that evening. The woman was subsequently charged with the Attempted Murder of Officer Hernandez. Superintendent Eddie Johnson credited the vest with saving Officer Hernandez’s life. This underscores the dangers faced by every working Chicago Police Officer as they encounter the rising violence on Chicago’s streets. Thankfully, both Officers reacted to this act of violence against them and stopped the threat which presented itself to them while they were simply doing their job protecting the citizens of Chicago. While Officer Hernandez’s vest saved his life, the outcome could have been much different if the vest was expired and failed to stop that fatal bullet. That is why the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation initiated the “Get Behind the Vest Program” with the goal to help Officers replace expired ballistic vests. To date this program has raised over $2.2 million dollars which has allowed us to replace over 7,000 vests; the vests that protect our officers every day, just like the vest that saved Officer Hernandez. Today we honor Officer Martin Hernandez and Officer Joel Lopez and salute them for the actions they took that Friday afternoon. We are proud to recognize them as our July officers of the month.

Leo Augle, Colin Ryan, John Halloran and James O’Brien On May 2, 2017 P/O’s Colin Ryan and Leo Augle were in a covert vehicle conducting a surveillance on a group of violent street gang members. During that surveillance, members of the targeted street gang ambushed the officers using two separate vehicles. The officers were fired upon with a high powered assault rifle by two of the gang members in a stolen van. Twenty eight shots were fired at the officers, twenty three of which struck the officers vehicle and penetrated the vehicle through and through. Both officers sustained multiple gunshot wounds. Both officers managed to return fire. The officers’ shots disabled the offender’s vehicle forcing the two offenders to abandon the stolen van a short distance from the shooting. The shooter was then forced to ditch the assault rifle a short distance from the stolen van. The second vehicle used by the gang members in the ambush fled the scene without firing a shot. The wounded officers managed to obtain a description of the offending vehicles even after being severely wounded. After the offender’s vehicle fled the scene P.O Ryan told P.O. Augle that he had been shot in the arm. P.O. Augle immediately felt that his back was sore and bleeding. Both officers exited the vehicle, and P.O. Augle called for help on the radio and looked at his partners arm and determined that he should apply a tourniquet. P.O. Augle was attempting to get his tourniquet off his vest and onto P.O Ryan’s arm when other members of their Tact team arrived on scene and placed a tourniquet on P.O Ryan’s arm. The ambulance arrived on scene and both officers were transported to the Emergency Room. They later found out that that the van was hit 23 times with an M-4 style rifle using the 5.56 mm rounds. Area Central Detectives O’Brien and Halloran responded to the scene of the shooting and coordinated the efforts of the Detective Division, the 009th District, Gang Intelligence and Gang Enforcement, Canine, Crime Lab Personnel and Federal authorities with the ATF and DEA in the securing and processing of the multiple scenes and throughout the follow up investigation. The Detectives sent out a flash message with a description of the offending vehicles. The shooter’s van was located and secured a short distance from the scene of the shooting. The assault rifle was also located and secured. The second vehicle used during the ambush was located by the 25th district tactical officers. That vehicle was still occupied by two of the gang members involved in the ambush. Those two gang members were transported into the Office of Area Central Detectives. The original targets of the officers’ surveillance were also located and transported into Area Central Detective Division. The Detectives interviewed those gang members who had been under surveillance and part of the ambush over many lengthy hours. Those gang members subsequently identified the two offenders who actually ambushed the officers and fired the […]

On April 19, 2017, Sergeant Cathlene Hillman monitored a call of “shots fired” in the 6100 block of Hamlin Avenue.  While en route, the call was updated to a person shot.  As Sgt. Hillman turned onto Hamlin, the first arriving officer confirmed a person was shot in the leg. On scene, Hillman observed a victim seated on the sidewalk leaning up against a building and a male kneeling next to him holding what appeared to be a sweatshirt on the victim’s left thigh. As she got closer, she observed that the victim was pale and sweating with his head nodding as though he was trying to stay awake.  She then noticed the volume of blood on the sidewalk.  Sgt. Hillman removed her personal tourniquet from her vest and applied it to victim’s upper thigh above the wound.  While applying the tourniquet, she instructed the friend to continue talking to the victim, telling him the tourniquet would stop the bleeding.  Hillman then instructed the other officer on scene to erect the crime scene tape and get a time check from dispatch for the tourniquet being applied. CFD arrived moments later and took the victim to Christ hospital where he underwent surgery for a damaged artery.  Sgt. Hillman cleaned up from all the blood and returned to duty. She happily learned the next day that the shooting victim had survived.  She is grateful to the department for providing the Law Enforcement Medical and Rescue Training (LEMART) that she was able to apply during a situation which saved an individual’s life. Sgt. Cathlene Hillman has been a police officer for 25 years.  She began her career in the 010 district and after five years, made the tactical team. During this time, the focus was on narcotic and gang enforcement within the 010th district.  She left a few years later to go to the Special Operations Section which was basically a citywide tactical team. After that she went to the narcotics section for a couple years and acted as a buy officer focusing on areas that had recent shootings. She then went back to a tactical team in the 010 district.  Hillman was recently promoted to the rank of sergeant and is currently assigned to the 008 district on the third watch as a sector sergeant.

APRIL 2017 OFFICER OF THE MONTH:  Sgt. Bryan Topczewski On August 8, 2016 Sgt. Bryan Topczewski responded to a call reporting that a child had been shot. He found 10-year-old Tavon Tanner lying face down inside the house, blood coming from his nose and mouth. Topczewski radioed in and asked if an ambulance was on the way, but there seemed to be some confusion with another shots fired call a few blocks away. Topczewski went and grabbed his pack and started rendering aid. Topczewski applied pressure to the wound, covering it with a compression bandage. Paramedics arrived within a few minutes, scooped up the boy and rushed him to Mount Sinai Hospital. After investigating the incident, Topczewski went to Mount Sinai to check on Tavon who underwent nearly four hours of surgery at Mount Sinai. The bullet damaged his pancreas, intestines, kidney and spleen as it entered his lower back and lodged in his chest, his mother said. Doctors removed the spleen and repaired the other organs but did not remove the bullet. Recovery was slow for Tavon. According to Topczewski, “It’s a little kid shot. If you’re a parent, you protect your kids. Whether it’s yours or someone else’s. This is what we do. It’s terrible to see a little young kid get shot in crossfire over, over what? It’s not a way to grow up.” Sgt. Bryan Topczewski began his career in the 018th District working beat 1823 in Cabrini Green. He completed two tours on the Area Three Mission team working responding to troubled locations as directed by district commanders. He was selected to be on the district gang team dealing with the violence associated with the narcotics trade. Based on his interaction with the gangs and their narcotics sales over the course of several years he was selected to be detailed to the Organized Crime Division to provide intelligence as they conducted the first mission ever run in a High rise Public Housing Unit. Operation “Candyman” identified 19 targets over a 90 day period and was a success in eliminating one of the more violent crews operating in the Cabrini Green Housing Project. Next Sgt. Topczewski was detailed to the Intelligence unit, C.A.G.E team which tracked firearms recovered used in the commission of crimes in the city. The unit worked with personnel from The Illinois state Police, the BATF and the DEA. He left the unit and went to work in the 15th District third watch on the city’s west side. He left the Westside and began working in the 16thDistrict where he was assigned to third watch. He was detailed to the Area Five R.B.T. Detective Division assisting the detectives in identifying offenders and clearing on going crime patterns. He left the 16th District and went to the Mobile Strike Force which operated city wide in areas with high violence and gang conflicts. In the Mobile Strike Force he was taught the LEMART class on basic first aid which he used to help save the […]

On the morning of January 22, 2017, Officer David Nicholl was off-duty when he heard several loud reports outside his home. Without hesitation, the officer grabbed his gun and star and headed toward the location of the gunfire. As he exited his residence, he saw a black Jeep speeding away from a nearby Shell gas station at 1524 W. Huron. On scene, the officer came upon two male victims who had been shot — one had an injury that was non-life-threatening and the other was bleeding profusely from a chest wound. Nicholl, who had received Law Enforcement Medical and Rescue Training (LEMART), quickly assessed the situation and retrieved an Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) from his vehicle which was parked nearby. The officer then applied his QuikClot blood clotting agent to the chest wound in an effort to stymie the bleeding. The agent began to work almost immediately while the officer applied pressure to the wound and maintained communication with the victim. Shortly thereafter, CPD and CFD units arrived, took command of the scene and transported the victims to Stroger Hospital for treatment. Thanks to the life saving actions of Officer Nicholl, both victims made a full recovery. P.O. David Nicholl joined the Chicago Police Department on October 27, 2014. He spent much of his probationary time with the downtown Bike Unit handling numerous anti-police protests. Upon completion of his probationary period, he was permanently assigned to the 3rd Watch in the 006th District. Nicholl is medically retired from the US Marine Corps following a rollover accident of his Humvee in Iraq which severely injured his right arm. He endured many years of rehab before being able to take and pass the physical fitness tests necessary to become a Chicago police officer.

On August 16, 2016, P.O. Brandon McDonald and his partner, P.O. Kevin Hernandez responded to a call of a vehicle hijacking that had occurred at 9600 S. Wallace. The officers spotted the vehicle and pursued the offender into the 005th District. During the pursuit, the offender began firing backward toward the blue and white striking the police vehicle several times. P.O. McDonald was also struck, leading the officers to end their pursuit near 10200 S. Eberhart. P.O. Brett Psik and P.O. Carlos Guevara continued the pursuit and at the intersection of 100th and Dauphin Avenue, had their police vehicle fired upon, leaving the officers no choice but to return fire. Shortly thereafter, the offender curbed his vehicle, tossed his weapon and got down on the ground allowing Psik and Guevara to take him into custody. Officer McDonald was transported to Christ Hospital with a graze wound to the left jaw and has made a full recovery. Officer Guevara was transported by CFD ambulance to Little Company of Mary Hospital and is still waiting to return to full duty. P.O. Brandon McDonald joined the Chicago Police Department in February of 2014 and completed his training cycles in the 006th District, 004th District and 003rd District, where he received his first Department Commendation. He has worked Operation Impact in the 003rd District and is currently assigned to the 022nd District. P.O. Kevin Hernandez joined the Chicago Police Department in 2014 and completed his field training in the 006th District, 010th District and 002nd District. He is currently assigned to the 022nd District. P.O. Brett Psik is new to the Chicago Police Department. He has worked in the 005th District and is currently assigned to the 003rd District. P.O. Carlos Guevara is an 11.5 year veteran of the Chicago Police Department. During that time, he worked the Mission Team and Tact Team in the 005th District before moving to the Mobile Strike Force. After that unit was disbanded, he went back to 005 where he is currently assigned to the 1st Watch.  

The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation’s January 2017 Officers of the Month, David Benitez, Alfonso Herrera, Juan R. Rivera and Eugenio “Tito” Tirado, were honored on January 10th for their heroics.  Click here for the ABC 7 news story.

On July 21, 2016, at approximately 2010 hours, Bike officer Juan Rivera was flagged down by a concerned citizen who stated that there was a male in the park at 18th Street and Calumet Avenue acting strangely and drinking an unknown alcoholic beverage. The individual was also ogling unsupervised, underage girls. Officer Rivera alerted bike officers David Benitez and Alfonso Herrera who relocated to the park and offered assistance. The officers encountered the offender, who was on his cell phone and took strategic and defensive positions with their bicycles. Benitez engaged the offender and attempted to conduct a field interview, but the individual became angry and combative. He refused to get off his phone. As Officer Benitez again ordered the offender to place his phone down, the individual lowered his arm and quickly produced a handgun, pointing it at each officer. Without warning, the offender fired in the direction of Officer Benitez, striking him in the left thigh. Each officer returned fire and neutralized the threat. Once the scene was secured, Officer Rivera ran back to Officer Benitez, who had fallen down on one knee. Benitez instructed Rivera to give him his belt to use as a makeshift tourniquet. Without hesitation, Rivera removed his duty belt and his pants belt, which he and Benitez used to wrap around the injured thigh to slow the bleeding. Benitez further instructed Rivera to apply pressure on the wound until assisting units arrived and an actual tourniquet replaced the belt. Unwilling to wait for an ambulance to arrive, officers on-scene placed Benitez into a CPD vehicle and transported him to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Officer Tirado joined Benitez in the vehicle and advised the dispatcher of a detailed route to the hospital. Tirado also made sure that Benitez remained awake and alert while continuing to apply pressure to the wound. Officer Benitez was ultimately treated and released and has made a full recovery. P.O. David Benitez has been a Chicago police officer for 17 years. During that time he has worked in the 002nd District, Public Housing South (Unit 715) and the 001st District. After working patrol in 001 for some time, he transferred to the 001st District Bike Team. He plans to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October of 2017. P.O. Alfonso Herrera has been a Chicago police officer for more than 17 years (02 AUG 1999). He is currently assigned to the 001st District and has been detailed to several units — Saturation/Mission Team Unit (formerly in Area 4). In September of 2001, he was sent under military orders to serve during Operation Enduring Freedom. Upon returning from his overseas duty, Herrera was assigned to the City Hall Detail. He returned to the 001st District Bike/Foot Team following the retirement of Mayor Richard Daley. He was also detailed to work executive security for the former City Treasurer, Stephanie Neely. Herrera has been happily married for more than 25 years and has two daughters. P.O. Juan Rivera followed in his father’s footsteps and became […]

On October 12, 2016, Chicago police officers David Watson and Paul Moreno responded to a call of “shots fired/person shot” on the 1100 block of North Lawler Avenue. On scene, the officers were directed to an apartment building. As they reached the second floor, large pools of blood were visible on the landing and lead into a nearby apartment. Watson and Moreno entered the residence and found a young male victim who had been shot in the right leg. left leg, groin and buttocks. The gun shot wound to the right leg had severed the femoral artery and immediate action was necessary to save the victim’s life. Without hesitation, the officers sprung into action. Watson, who had obtained combat first aid training in the U.S. Marine Corps, took a belt from a resident and quickly tied it around the victim’s wounded right leg. Another resident produced a stick that the officer used to tighten the tourniquet. Officer Moreno, who had been controlling the large crowd that had gathered in the apartment, came to Officer Watson’s aid and maintained tension on the tourniquet until medics arrived. CFD Paramedics, ER Doctors and Trauma Surgeons at Mt. Sinai Hospital praised the response of the two officers and credited their quick thinking and actions in saving the victim’s life. The victim had lost approximately 4 liters of blood before the tourniquet was applied and probably would not have survived the ambulance ride to Mt. Sinai. He has since been released from the hospital and is recovering. P.O. David Watson, a nine year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, joined the Chicago Police Department in 2006 and has served the community of the 015th District (Austin) his entire police career. He is happily married and is the father of three amazing boys. P.O. Paul Moreno followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Chicago Police Department in 2013. He has been assigned to Unit 213 Area North Deputy Chief and the 015th District. Officer Moreno is also happily married.    

  On September 14, 2016, Retired Deputy Chief Fred Coffey went to Eckersoll Park for his daily workout. As he arrived, a 21-year old convicted felon and Black P Stone gang member approached Deputy Chief Coffey and announced a robbery. When Coffey didn’t comply quickly enough, the offender shot him in the left shoulder. Deputy Chief Coffey was able to get away from the offender and drew his snub nose revolver. Coffey returned fire, striking the offender in the leg. The offender then fled the scene. Deputy Chief Coffey was transported to the University of Chicago Medical Center and treated for his gunshot wound. The offender was arrested at 7824 S. Oglesby and a firearm was recovered. He was charged with attempt murder, attempt robbery, aggravated battery with a firearm, UUW by a felon and violation of parole. Thanks to Deputy Chief Coffey’s quick actions, a robbery was foiled and a dangerous felon was taken off the street.

On March 22, 2015, Sgt. Geoff Pienta, P.O. Mike Modzelewski and P.O. John Conneely responded to a “burglary in progress” call at 2229 S. Stewart. Upon arrival, the officers were met by a witness who relayed that he heard someone enter the residence as well as a woman’s scream shortly thereafter. The officers gained entry to the building and began conducting a room by room search. Once they reached the top floor they could see a male attempting to secret himself behind a bedroom door and gave him verbal commands to show himself. When the offender refused to comply, the officers entered the room and a brief struggle ensued. Reasonable force was used to enact an arrest and the offender was taken into custody. A knife was discovered in his waistband. Once the individual was in handcuffs, a female victim exited the bathroom wearing only a towel and stated that she had been sexually assaulted by the offender. Further investigation determined that as the female entered the foyer of the residence, she was attacked from behind and forced at knife-point into an upstairs bedroom where she was bound, gagged and raped. The offender then dragged her into the shower in an attempt to cleanse her of any evidence. Had the officers not arrived when they did, the offender would have surely killed his victim to hide the crime. Sgt. Geoff Pienta has been with the Chicago Police Department for twenty years. He began his career in the 009th District in 1996 and worked for a short time with his father who retired in 1997. He was promoted to sergeant in 2003 and was assigned to the 002nd District. Pienta has also worked as a tactical and gang sergeant and moved to the Gang Enforcement Division in July of 2014, where he is currently assigned. P.O. Michael Modzelewski has worked in the 009th District for more than ten years and has been assigned to numerous incident teams as well as the 963 Tactical Team. He is currently assigned to the Area Central Robbery/Burglary Mission Team. P.O. John Conneely has been a Chicago police officer for nearly 18 years and has been recently promoted to the rank of Sergeant. His prior assignments include 012 Tactical Team, Area 4 Mission Team, Vice Unit, Gang Intelligence, the FBI Joint Task Force on Gangs and the Area Central Robbery/Burglary Team. He is currently assigned to the 008th District Tactical Team.  

We Will Never Forget