As a young man I always admired the police and found honor in what they did. My opportunity to join the Chicago Police Department arose in 1992. After taking all of my exams, I entered the Academy on Pearl Harbor day, 07 December 1992.
I considered myself an average performing recruit and tried to absorb as much knowledge as possible. I graduated the Academy on 05 May 1993.
My first day on the street was 25 May in the 10th District on first watch. I remember being nervous and hoping not to screw up too badly. My Field Training Officer (FTO) was Tommy Doyle, a veteran officer who went about showing what was expected of me and how everything was properly done. Tommy made sure I knew my location at all times and how this knowledge would be especially important during an emergency situation. He would test me several times a night. He would keep me busy with some other police matter, pull into an alley, a lot or the middle of a block and stop and ask me where we were. He expected me not only to know where we were, but also how to articulate that information over the radio so other police units would know where and how to respond. At the time, I really did not know how important this information would come to be.
On 22 June 1993, the day after the Chicago Bulls won their 3rd championship, I was assigned to work with an Officer Joseph Sosnowski. My FTO Tommy Doyle was on furlough and I guess Joe drew the short straw and was stuck with me, the PPO (Probationary Police Officer). The night started out uneventful enough and Joe was driving me around showing me different locations on our beat where varying offenses regularly occurred. I knew Tommy would return any day from furlough and I was making sure I knew my streets and my location.
We drove to the area of 16th and Kolmar. West of Kolmar on 16th Street, a viaduct crosses over to the suburb of Cicero. North of 16th Street, Kolmar parallels some train tracks that are to the west and the street ends about a block north. The area was known for drugs and prostitution. As we turned the corner heading north on Kolmar, we came upon a green Ford Escort with a single male white occupant seated in the driver’s seat, up on the east curb. We stopped parallel to the subject and I asked what he was doing in the area. The subject related he was lost and leaned over to the passenger side to open his glove compartment. I immediately exited my vehicle fearing the subject would produce some sort of weapon. As I approached his auto he pulled out a map of Iowa. I then told the subject he must really be lost and asked him to exit his auto. As I opened the driver’s side door of his vehicle, my partner Joe walked around the back of our squad car to assist me. The subject then turned as if to exit, put his feet outside the door and quickly reached under his seat and produced a handgun. I immediately began to step backwards and yelled out, “Weapon!”. I managed to get a grip on my still holstered gun as the offender fired three rounds at me. The third round entered my abdomen, just under my bullet proof vest. I fell into the open door of my vehicle as the offender began to fire at Joe. I managed to draw my weapon and fired several shots at the offender while I was still on the floor of my car, striking him. I then stood up and fired several more rounds until the offender collapsed. I approached the offender to assure he was no longer a threat. He died of his injuries. I then checked on Joe who was on one knee at the rear of the squad car on the passenger side. He had sustained several gunshots to his left shoulder area. When we called for assistance I instantly knew exactly where we were due to the training given to me by Officer Doyle. For what seemed like an eternity, Joe and I laid down and waited for help to arrive. I still remember the great feeling of relief and safety when I saw the blue lights of responding officers.
Joe, after receiving 5 gunshot wounds, eventually recovered and returned to full duty. I returned to duty in the 10th District, in December of 1993. In February of 1995, I was meritoriously promoted to Detective and assigned to Area 2. In early 1996, I transferred to Area 4 where I have been fortunate to work with some of the best Detectives in the country. I am currently assigned to the Crime Lab Forensic Detail at the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
I really admire and appreciate all that the Police Memorial Foundation does and stands for. I am very grateful and honored to be named officer of the month.