Well, where should I start? I always wanted to be a cop, ever since I saw my uncle dressed in his CPD uniform heading out to work when I was 4 years old. I grew up in Bridgeport, where I remember seeing a lot of hard working people who struggled to get by and enjoyed the closeness of family and friends. Hard work was a way of life for a lot of families and you could see that in their faces.
When I was 14 I went into the Foster Care system, eventually winding up at Mercy Boy’s Home at Jackson and Racine. The Chicago Police Academy was right down the street so I would always think to myself, ”Hey, I’m getting closer.”
I joined the 933rd Military Police Army National Guard Unit in 1983, in hopes that it would better my chances of getting on the Chicago Police Department. I made friends there that I still keep in touch with and even traveled to the Philippines with my Unit, something that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
I worked at Mercy Boy’s Home and had a small apartment in Bridgeport, when in November of 1986, on a Friday afternoon, I got the CALL! I was to start the following Monday and I have to tell you it was one of the HAPPIEST days of my life. To have this job meant fulfilling a dream, having a career, and making a positive impact with my life. This was one of my dreams that came true.
When I graduated I was assigned to the 21st District. Back in the day where they told you, “Keep your eyes open and your mouth shut.” There was an awesome amount of respect that was shown to the officers with more time on. That’s the way it was. I had a great time. I considered the people that I worked with my family. When I got married in 1988, half the room was filled with family from my wife’s side, the other half was filled with my police family from 021.
I eventually wanted to try something different and I transferred over to the 7th District. I had the time of my life. I got on the Tact team there and I was living the dream. I made friends there and time just flew by. I enjoyed the adrenaline rush from getting the guns and doing the warrants, it was a great time to be in 007. Just about had that Hill Street Blues mentality written all over it.
In late September of 1994, I transferred over to the Narcotics Unit. I think I was there about 10 working days when I got shot three times during the execution of a Search Warrant. I came about as close to dying as it gets. By the grace of God, and the excellent emergency care at Northwestern, I survived.
When I got home all I could do was think about getting back to work, to put this tragedy behind me. But I was doing something that I have always done, looking forward to tomorrow to get away from the past. I struggled with a lot of things during my recovery, but one thing that I felt was helpful was talking to people who have already been through it. I was fortunate enough to talk to Joe Sosnowski and Wilbur Pierce, both who had been shot about a year before I was. The meeting was amazing, these guys totally understood what was going on because they lived it themselves.
In 1996, myself and 8 other officers formed the Police Survivors. We addressed issues dealing with the recovery aspect of our injuries. I think that we have had a positive impact and have helped a lot of officers along the way. Our basic philosophy was that we wanted to assist in any way that we could, in a quiet and confidential way. We did this with a great deal of help from people who supported our organization over the years.
Now, fast forward, I’m assigned to the Area Three HGS Unit, once again making friends that will last a lifetime. I really look forward to going to work and being with Chicago’s Finest, still a part of this family.
I am a member of the Blue Knights Illinois 11 M/C Club (I Love Riding Motorcycles), I am a strong supporter and Alumni of Mercy Boy’s Home (I wouldn’t be where I am today without them!) and a founding member of the Police Survivors (Taking Care Of Our Own!).
I am still married, have 4 children, 6-17, and my niece has lived with us since she was 15 and is now 22, is in the Air Force National Guard and attending College. Life is Good!
I am proud that the Chicago Police Memorial exists. There is something special about it. It’s like life in Chicago, moments of peace and serenity as you stand there to pay your respects to our officers, and then traffic or a game at Soldier Field, where life seems to go on at a faster pace. Almost a reflection of a police officer’s life, some moments of quiet and then the adrenaline rush…
Thank you for this honor, to be a part of something so great, once again.