June 2013

When I was four, my sister and I were alone midday with a babysitter when a fire broke out in the kitchen. The babysitter ran for help, I panicked and ran further into the second floor apartment and away from the exits. My older sister Brenda came after me to get me out, but we quickly became trapped in a front bedroom. An air conditioner blocked the window, but a ladder provided by a neighborhood handyman was scaled by a police officer who yanked it out of the window, sending it crashing to the ground. With smoke billowing over our heads, he pulled us out just in time. Materially speaking, it was a total loss. But I am sure any parent would agree that any day your kid escapes a fire, it is a good day.

While psychologists might argue to the contrary, because I have no memory of my own experience as a child with a residential fire, I can’t honestly say that event in my life is what motivated me to become a police officer. However, it is entirely possible it predisposed me to that career choice. All I know – cliche as it might sound – I have always wanted to be a cop. Though no one in my immediate family was in law enforcement, growing up on the southwest side of Chicago many of my friends’ parents were cops.

I kept my nose mostly clean as a kid, pursued and obtained a degree in law enforcement from WIU, worked diligently as an investigator for a taxi cab insurance company, and when the chance arose to attend the police academy, I grabbed it as fast as I could.

My superiors will tell you I am a hard worker. I guess that is relative. All I know is that only a fortunate few get to do what they love and get paid for it, and I am one of them.

The story about the fire on Drake is familiar to many. I was a block away when I responded to the 911 call. When pounding the door failed to roust anyone, I felt I had to kick in the door. Directing the second floor occupants, Ms Washington and her kids got out safely. The third floor was the location of the fire. I kicked in the door, but smoke drove me back. Racing around the building I saw a woman leaning out a window and distracted and kept her calm until CFD arrived. Her son had managed to self-extricate and was on an adjoining roof.

The first thing my dad asked when I told him about it was if it brought up any bad memories. It did not. Not yet, anyway!

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We Will Never Forget