Band of Brothers
Although I greatly appreciate being recognized and selected Police Officer of the Month by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. I feel that others deserve this award far more than I do. The brave police officers, living or deceased, who continue the struggle against the forces of evil, have earned this award far more than my poor power to add or detract from it. Accordingly, I accept this award in their honor.
My police career started in the United States Air Force 1977-1982 where I worked as a Security Police Specialist, and matured enough to learn the value of education, ultimately completing my PhD from Capella University this past spring, and the value of brother-sisterhood and the concept of functioning as a team. After being discharged, I joined the CPD in December of 1987 and was assigned to the 010th District. A great place to learn, and worked for and with the best bosses and veterans that where there at the time. I remember thinking how fortunate I was to be there. Never wanted to leave because of the camaraderie and people I worked with, learning a valuable set of survival skills in the process such as keeping your head down. As it turned out, I learned that lesson the hard way.
On the evening of 16 September 1997 at approximately 2308 hours my partner and I responded to a shots fired call by Beat 1050 Sergeant K. Erickson #2085 originating from the middle of the 2200 block of south Hamlin. As we pulled up to the heavily tree lined street I observed a white Chevy trying to pull away from the area. As I approached the driver’s side of the car and began to speak to the driver, suddenly 5-6 automatic gunshots rang out from above the tree line on the Westside of Hamlin. As I dove for cover, I felt a burning sensation and could hear the bullets whizzing by my head and striking the vehicle in front of me. As I quickly recovered and reached for my handgun, I felt something warm and wet running down my right hand so I placed the handgun in my left hand. I had sustained a gunshot wound to my right hand over the second web space exposing the tendon, which required surgical skin grafting. After trying to pinpoint the origin of the gunshots and being assisted by police officer Reynaldo Valdez #19146. We displaced and ran across the street repositioning ourselves behind another vehicle. I vividly remember a hysterical citizen who lived on the block coming up to me and offering a kitchen towel to help stop the bleeding. As I was walking to the ambulance, I heard glass breaking as responding units were entering the house where the shots were fired from a second story bay window. I remember thinking I wanted to rush in with them, and how proud I was and still am to be a part of this great band of brothers. The offender, who was sentenced to 38 years for attempt murder, had successfully fired upon six police officers with a B/S Norinco 7.62 caliber semi-automatic rifle, which was recovered along with a B/S Remington .12 gauge shotgun. Incidentally, the offender had stated to detectives that he planned to shoot up the police station. As a result, I was meritoriously promoted to Sergeant in 1998 and assigned to the 009th District, and am currently working in Unit 701 Public Transportation since 2003. After all was said and done, I came home from the hospital and remember my 5-year-old son, coming up to me and looking at this large bandage on my hand, and I intuitively knew what he was thinking. I said, “Its okay son, I’m going to be okay.” Then I realized it’s all about, family, duty, honor and courage.
Therefore, in recognition of the police officers that were fired upon or helped in the investigation and subsequent arrest of the offender, and all the unsung heroes involved in this incident. I humbly accept this award in their honor:
Police Officer Reynaldo Valdez Star #19146
Police Officer Scott Pierson Star #19485
Police Officer William Soto Star #16815
Police Officer Rafael Garcia #7688
Police Officer Javier Celio Star #19460