I entered the Chicago Police Academy in July 1996 and since then have been assigned to 009, 007, Area One Gun Team and Detective Division Units 610, 620 and 606. I hail from a law enforcement family, with my brother and a cousin both CPD, my dad a retired FBI agent, and two uncles who are retired police officers. Also, my great-grandfather was a sergeant who commanded officers at the Haymarket Riot and my wife’s grandfather was an old white hat in the Traffic Unit.
I began my career in the 009th District on midnights working for Lt. Jack Halpin, certainly one of the last bosses from a different era who always held the best interests of his people before his own. I was lucky enough to have another boss of the same caliber for most of the years I spend on the 009th District Tact Team, Mark Zenere. I had a lot of great experiences in those days (nights) and the guys I worked with remain some of the most loyal friends I’ve ever had.
After 3 ½ years on midnights, my partner and I moved to the Tactical Unit where I stayed for the next 6 ½ years. My long time partner was promoted to sergeant at the end of 2005 and then I made Detective in April 2006 and was assigned to Area One Robbery.
Sunday, May 13, 2007 was Mother’s Day and my “Friday.” I went into work after making dinner for my wife who was just celebrating her 2nd Mother’s Day as our son was 15 months old. I promised to take it easy that night and not get involved in anything too crazy because I was getting up to take him to the zoo in the morning. I was working a 1630-0100 shift and was about a mile from Area One at ten minutes to 0100 when I engaged a suspect in a foot pursuit. I was ambushed by a second subject who fired at me from behind striking me in the lower back at the belt. I won’t get too into the details, but the pain was excruciating and my first thoughts were that I would not be able to see my son again. I decided that was not an option and that I had to make it out of that vacant lot to see my little boy at least one more time. I was fortunate to have great guys who I knew from 009 responding to my side almost immediately. Some held my hand and kept encouraging me to stay conscious while another applied pressure to the gunshot wound. My brother was on duty with the Area One Midnight Tact Team and was at my side right away and with me in the ambulance en route to the hospital. The CFD paramedic who came to my aid and rode in the back with my brother and I is married to one of my cousins and it was very reassuring to be surrounded by friends and family when I was in certainly my toughest moments.
When I was brought into the ER at Stroger Hospital, my wife appeared at my side. A great friend from 009 had raced to pick her up and somehow got her to the hospital in time to see me before I was rushed into surgery. I told her I was sorry and she said “Don’t be sorry, I’m proud of you.” She was my strongest supporter, defender and morale booster throughout a recovery which took almost a year. She was, and is, truly amazing. I had a colostomy bag for about three months and bullet fragments are still with me in a few places, but I returned to work in March 2008. My son is now four years old and we have since had a little girl, aged two.
When I came back to work, I got involved with The Police Survivors, a selfless, very dedicated group of people who have been through incidents like mine and reach out to help other officers who are traumatically injured in the line of duty. The Survivors were there for me and I have tried to repay them by joining in their meaningful work. I still find the enjoyment and fulfillment in this job which I think is the most admirable and noble of all pursuits; the defense of the weak and the protection of the innocent.
Some of the best people in the world are engaged in this work on a daily basis, real practitioners of police work, no posturing or pretending; the real deal. No matter how maligned and belittled we are as an organization, this simple and inescapable fact remains; when people in this city call for help they do not call anyone other than us, and we come. I am, and always have been very proud to be a member of the Chicago Police Department.