On Tuesday, December 11th, we will come together to honor Officer Fernando Soto, a sixth district tactical officer with 8 years on the job, patrolling some of Chicago’s most dangerous streets.
On November 20, the day after the Mercy Hospital shooting, while the city was still in shock and mourning three service people, Officer Soto and his partner Officer Luis Escobedo were grieving for one of their brothers in blue. However, they do what cops do, they continue to patrol the streets of Chicago.
On that morning, Officer Soto saw a man walking down the street making movements that were consistent with a man holding a gun. As the officers approached the man in their vehicle, the offender spotted the officers, looked at them, and then quickly looked away hoping the Officers would not question him. The officers passed the offender but continued to observe him as the offender continued his glances at the officers to see if the officers were still watching him. Officer Soto told his partner he thought the offender was carrying a gun and they should put a stop on him.
The officers made a u-turn and Officer Soto got out of the car and called to the offender. The offender took off running in the opposite direction. Officer Soto was right behind him while his partner maneuvered the squad car to head off the offender. Officer Soto saw the offender pull out a gun. The offender shot at Officer Soto who returned fire and the offender fell to the ground. Officer Soto felt that he was hit but still secured the offender's weapon. Officer Soto had the good sense to kneel down onto one knee to reduce the distance to the ground in case he would suddenly collapse from his injury.
Officer Soto told his partner that he had been shot, so his partner examined him and let him know that the bullet had penetrated the vest and was lodged inside of it. Happily, the vest worked and Officer Soto was bruised but safe. It should be noted that a Sergeant who responded to the shooting used his medical kit to apply clotting gauze to the offender’s wounds. The gun that was used to shoot Officer Soto was one of nearly 8000 illegal guns taken off the street so far this year. Sadly, each of those guns removed could have ended like this encounter with Officer Soto.
The vest that saved Officer Soto was one he received through the Get Behind the Vest Campaign. His vest is one of over 8000 vests purchased by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation for Chicago Police Officers. The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation realizes that these vests expire and we are dedicated to keeping our officers safe. We have committed to purchasing an additional 500 vests each year to ensure no officer protects the streets without a vest that won’t help protect them.
Every day there are countless officers out there doing a job that many citizens of Chicago do not want to do. These are the men and women who walk into a dark alley or gangway looking for the bad guys, they are the ones who answer our calls for help, and risk their lives without giving it a second thought. Officer Soto is one of those officers and we are proud to make him our Officer of the Month for December presented by Galls.
This morning, the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation honors Chicago Police Sergeant Michael Bazarek who arrested a criminal after he saw an unprovoked attack on a 91 year old man in Chinatown.
On September 18th, Sergeant Michael Bazarek had attended a meeting at Police Headquarters and then traveled into Chinatown looking for a cup of coffee. The sergeant observed a man walking down Wentworth, waving wildly and scaring people off the sidewalk. The Sergeant followed his instinct and continued to follow and observed the man. The man was talking and shouting to himself. Within minutes the man approached an elderly man and punched him square in the face causing the man to fall backward onto the ground and strike his head on the pavement.
Sergeant Bazarek, along with other nearby citizens including an on-duty Cook County Sheriff, went to aid the elderly man. An ambulance was called and the Sergeant returned to his vehicle and followed the offender. The sergeant was armed but without handcuffs or a police radio. He called 911 from his cellphone. Bazarek tailed the offender, giving a description and direction of flight to the dispatcher. The offender walked south to 26th Street then east towards LaSalle Street. As responding police units neared, Sgt Bazarek pulled in front of the suspect, blocking his way and made the arrest.
The elderly victim was taken to the hospital and remained in intensive care for many days. He faces a long road to recovery.
“He was acting out. He was not hurting anyone, but he was in a very threatening manner ... talking at the sky, talking at the sidewalk and frightening people,” says Sgt Michael Bazarek in describing the offender just before the attack on the 91 year old citizen in Chinatown.
The suspect was charged with numerous counts of aggravated battery including Aggravated Battery on a Senior Citizen. Further investigation revealed the suspect served time in prison for attempted murder and Aggravated Battery on a Senior Citizen. This case highlights another case of a career criminal taken off the street by a Chicago Police Officer.
Sgt Bazarek comes from a police family. His father Gary Bazarek retired as a Captain after 35 years, his uncle served 33 years and his brother Bill worked as a civilian attorney in the law department of the CPD for 27 years. Collectively, they have given nearly 125 years of service to the city of Chicago. In February 2019, Sgt Bazarek faces mandatory retirement but still loves this job and goes after the bad guys just like he did when he came out of the academy over 28 years ago.
He is a great example of police work as a passion and calling, and we are proud to honor him as our November Officer of the Month presented by Galls.
Governor Bruce Rauner will sign Illinois House Bill 5513 into Law benefitting the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.
HB 5513 amends the Illinois Lottery Law to include the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation in a scratch-off Illinois Lottery game which benefits Illinois police memorials.
This morning at Gold Star Families Memorial & Park a bill signing ceremony will take place wherein Governor Bruce Rauner will sign Illinois House Bill 5513 into Law. HB 5513 amends the Illinois Lottery Law to include the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation in a scratch-off Illinois Lottery game which benefits Illinois police memorials.
HB 5513 states that the net revenue from that game shall be divided equally for distribution into the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, the Police Memorial Committee Fund, and the Illinois State Police Memorial Fund. The funds shall be used for building and maintaining memorials and parks; holding annual memorial commemorations; giving scholarships to children of officers killed or catastrophically injured in the line of duty, providing for the replacement of protective vests; and providing financial assistance to police officers and their families when an officer is killed or catastrophically injured in the line of duty.
"We are excited to have the State of Illinois supporting our men and women in blue by passing this bill. We are looking forward to seeing these scratch off tickets around the state and bringing more support to those who serve their city and state,"says Chicago Police Memorial Foundation Phil Cline.
Hundreds of Motorcycle Enthusiasts Expected at Chicago Police Area 4 Detectives' 14th Annual Ride to Remember
"I think it is important to honor these fallen heroes, as well as, support their families. We are undertaking a large event and I feel there will be a huge turnout," explained Chicago Police Sergeant John Roberts, one of the organizers.
The Chicago Police Detective Division sponsors the 14th Annual RIDE TO REMEMBER fundraiser on Sunday, July 29, 2018, benefiting the
Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. The detectives expect hundreds of Chicago area motorcycle enthusiasts to take part in this worthy event that starts at the former Area 4 Detective Headquarters at the corner of Harrison and Kedzie.
The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that honors officers killed or catastrophically injured in the line of duty. It supports and assists the families of Chicago Police Officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. It was established in 2004, to help build a bridge between the Chicago Police Department and the people these officers protect. The foundation gives voice to the gratitude so many have expressed to these CPD heroes.
Over 580 men and women have died while keeping watch on the citizens who live in the city of Chicago.
Registration will take place between 7:30 am and 8:30 am on July 29, in the Area 4 parking lot and the ride will start 9:00 am sharp. To take part, a fee of $35 is required per motorcycle and rider. The donation for additional passengers is $35 each. This fee includes a Ride To Remember t-shirt and the after-ride celebration at the Teamsters Local 705 Union Hall at 1645 W. Jackson Blvd. There will be food, live music and refreshments.
The ride leaves Area 4, travels south on the Boulevards and east to Lake Shore Drive. The ride proceeds north on LSD to the Chicago Police Gold Star Families Memorial Park near Soldier Field, where there will be a short program. For more information, please visit www.cpdmemorial.org.
"I think it is important to honor these fallen heroes, as well as, support their families. We are undertaking a large event and I feel there will be a huge turnout. We look forward to seeing our fellow riders rain or shine," explained Chicago Police Sergeant John Roberts, one of the organizers. "The ride is open to the public and we are asking everyone to attend and show their support for the Chicago Police Department."
The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation is disheartened by the news of the release of Cop Killer Jackie Wilson. We stand with the families of Richard J. O’Brien and William Fahey and ensure all that we will NEVER FORGET.
Today, the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation honors Retired Chicago Police Officer Robert Olson who served the city for 39 years and 11 months. Officer Olson utilized his training and experience when confronted by an armed assailant who wanted his car. The carjacker, a repeat felon, was out on the street on early release from prison, having been previously convicted of a robbery and gun charge.
The carjacking occurred on April 25, 2018, a Wednesday evening when Robert had planned to join some friends at a local Bridgeport establishment for dinner. As he got close to the restaurant he looked for a place to park his car and found one near 29th and Shields.
Although Robert had been retired for over 6 years, his instincts and observational skills are still sharp. Robert noticed three young guys milling around the corner and pondered what they were planning. As Robert parked, he observed the three guys were gone and assumed they just went on their way. What Robert didn’t know is that this crew had crouched down behind a car, hiding so they could surprise Robert and catch him off guard. Robert got out of his car quickly slamming the door and was confronted by the felon who pointed the gun directly at him while running toward him, shouting “I’ll kill you, give me the car.”
Robert Olson retired honorably after nearly 40 years but the police tradition of service continues. Robert’s son, also named Robert Olsen is presently on the CPD working in the Detective division. Robert’s grandson is also named Robert Olson, but he chose another path, going to law school at the University of Illinois. What is interesting is that earlier this year, he also was a victim of carjacking. The young man was in Hyde Park when he was carjacked. The suspect pointed a gun, demanded the car and luckily, the youngest Robert Olsen was not hurt, but he did lose the car. After this robbery, Robert was concerned as these carjackings seemed to continue to increase citywide.
Robert Olsen continues to carry a gun to protect his family and his life as most retired police officers do. On that evening when his life was threatened by the carjacker, he acted instinctively as police do. Robert shot the suspect once without hesitation and the felon fell to the ground. As the felon lay on the street, his accomplice asked Robert not to shoot him saying “Don’t shoot me, I don’t have a gun,” which implies he knew exactly what they were doing – working together as a crew out carjacking innocent people. Robert ordered the accomplice to the ground and called 911 while the third suspect took off running. The police arrived; the shot felon was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The police recovered the felon’s gun and arrested the accomplice. The third suspect was eventually arrested, but the States Attorney’s office chose not to charge either accomplice and both were released. Robert was told that the accomplices were not armed so they wouldn’t be charged.
“Over the last few months, we have honored a few Officers who have stopped carjackings from occurring. We are thankful for the police, both active and retired, that are constantly surveying their surroundings to ensure the safety of themselves and others,” said Phil Cline, Executive Director of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.
The felon in this case is suspected of other robberies after his early release, and the police believe he committed an earlier carjacking at about 8:00am on that fateful morning that he tried to rob Robert Olson.
This morning we are happy to present this award to Robert Olson. Without his training and life experiences as a law enforcement officer, it could have gone the other way, and we would be mourning his loss. Please join us in honoring retired Officer Robert Olson, as our June Officer of the Month presented by Galls.
ABOUT THE CHICAGO POLICE MEMORIAL FOUNDATION
The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation is a not-for- profit organization dedicated to honoring the lives of our fallen heroes. The Foundation provides support and assistance to the families of Chicago Police Officers who were killed or catastrophically injured in the line of duty.
Established in 2004, the Foundation strengthens the relationship between the Chicago Police, its business and civic leaders, and its citizenry. It allows us to express our gratitude to the fallen Officers' families for the ultimate sacrifice of their loved one. To date, the Foundation has donated more than $9.5 million to family members of Chicago Police officers in need of assistance.
For more information about the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation and its mission, please visit our website at www.cpdmemorial.org
"Her Name Was Joanne" chronicles the story of the fiance of fallen Chicago Police Officer Tom Kelly. It was written by Retired CPD Lt. Dennis Banahan. Please take a moment to read her story, and the story of two fallen Chicago Police heroes. Officer Kelly's murderer, Charles Connolly is up for parole on July 18th. Won't you help us to live up to our promise to "Never Forget"? Join us in protesting the release of this convicted cop killer? You can send a letter to the Chairman of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, as follows:
Illinois Prisoner Review Board
319 East Madison Street, Suite A
Springfield, IL 62701
HER NAME WAS JOANNE
By Dennis M. Banahan
I remember the first time I saw her face. It was from a distance. Her dark eyes were haunted by inconsolable pain. She wept loudly and her body convulsed as she labored down the stairs of the Catholic Church behind the flag-draped casket of Chicago Police Officer Thomas Kelly. Family and friends flanked her on each side for support. A cold March wind tried in vain to sweep her tears away but there were just too many. She was a portrait of despair; of utter devastation.
She was Tommy Kelly's fiancée and they had just recently finished their final wedding preparations. All I could think of as I watched the stricken figure stumble behind the casket was that she should have been wearing white this week, not black. It should have been the happiest time of her life, not the saddest. I wished I could have reached out from the crowd and touched her hand or said or done something that would have eased her pain and her heartbreak. But it was evident that her agony was far beyond the comfort or consolation that a stranger in the middle of a crowd of hundreds could possibly offer. She didn't know me and I knew very little about her. Just that she was Tommy Kelly's fiancee and her name was Joanne.
Tommy Kelly and I grew up in the same neighborhood together. The neighborhood was simply known as 69th Street. It was a tough, predominantly Italian neighborhood so there weren't many Kellys and Banahans around but it didn't matter to any of us. The Italians are great people and anybody from 69th Street was considered family regardless of whether your name began with a vowel or ended in a vowel. It was an unwritten bond that transcended ethnic or social differences. It was a really a great place to grow up.
Tom was a few years older than I was. I knew his younger brother, Bob, who was my age, better when we were growing up. Bob and I had attended St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Grammar School together. The Kelly Brothers were from a tight knit Irish family. They always reminded me of the famed Fightin' Sullivan Brothers. They were pretty tough kids and they all looked out for one another. They weren't known for starting trouble but they weren't known for backing away from it either. Mostly, they were just known throughout the neighborhood as nice guys and good softball players.
Tommy Kelly joined the Chicago Police Force a few years before I did. By the time I came on the job in 1969, he had already established a reputation as being a good street policeman. Whenever the coppers with a few years under their belts would be milling around the roll call room drinking coffee and telling war stories, I always waited for the opportune opening to casually inject that Tommy Kelly and I were from the same neighborhood. As a rookie policeman, it was a great source of pride to me to know a policeman the caliber of Tommy Kelly. There was also a subtle, or maybe not so subtle, underlying suggestion that I wanted to be that type of policeman too.
In the early 70's, Tommy Kelly and his partner, Tom Neustrom, were assigned to Area One Task Force, affectionately known at that time as the "Big Red One". The unit was defined as a mobile strike force and utilized to augment district manpower in those police districts experiencing a particularly high incidence of crime or assigned to a specific trouble site where the potential for violence was imminent. They were crammed into the back of police vans like cattle and shipped to the west side for the King Riots; downtown for the Democratic National Convention; the Petrillo Bandshell for the Grant Park Riots; and thrown into hundreds of other like situations. Whenever, or wherever, things got ugly, they were activated. The officers assigned to that unit, by the very nature of their duties, had to be aggressive, hard working policemen.
Anyway, back in those days, the Big Red One, more often than not, was usually assigned to the 2nd District when their services were not needed elsewhere. The 2nd District had acquired almost as many aliases over the years as some of the people that had been detained in it's lock-up. The station was referred to as "The Deuce" by some, or "The Bash" by others (a derivative of Wabash), even though the old red brick station house at 48th & Wabash had been razed and the new facility was located at 51st & Wentworth. The location and the name of the police station may have changed but little else did. The 2nd District was still the 2nd District: a rose by any other name. It was geographically the smallest district in the city and yet it maintained the dubious honor, year after year, of having the highest crime rate in the city. The city's political architects gerrymandered the district's boundaries to ensure that virtually all the public housing complexes, and the crime associated with them, were contained within its perimeters. The district, though only eight blocks wide and thirty blocks long, was, and is, home to twenty blocks of high rise public housing buildings that are called the Stateway Gardens and the Robert Taylor Projects. I always felt that whoever named Stateway a "garden" should have been arrested for a felony misnomer. The broad expanse of land that surrounded each unit was anything but a garden. It was a veritable blanket of refuse and broken glass.
March 3, 1970 was the anniversary of my first year on the job. Several of the officers I graduated from the police academy with were planning a little celebration party for later that evening so I took the day off time-due. Tommy Kelly and his partner, Tom Neustrom, weren't celebrating that day though. They were assigned to patrol the mean streets in the "Deuce" as they had so many times before. They were cruising the area around 44th & King Drive when they observed a vehicle containing two occupants commit a minor traffic violation. They curbed the vehicle and exited their squad car. The driver of the car also got out and walked back towards Kelly and Neustrom while removing a traffic ticket from his pocket. Officer Neustrom noticed that the passenger in the vehicle seemed to be acting unduly nervous. His police instincts told him the man's demeanor warranted further investigation. So upon walking over to the passenger's side of the car, Officer Neustrom initiated some general on the scene questioning. The man appeared to become even more tense and it was becoming increasingly obvious that his responses to the questions were deliberately evasive. Feeling that his suspicions were correct, Officer Neustrom asked the passenger to step out of the vehicle. The man readily complied and after doing so, Officer Neustrom conducted a protective pat down of the man. After determining that the man wasn't in possession of any dangerous weapons, Officer Neustrom instructed him to step to the rear of the vehicle where Officer Kelly was still talking to the driver of the car. Officer Neustrom was conducting a cursory examination of the car's interior when suddenly from behind him, there was a thunderous explosion. Officer Neustrom bolted upright and turned to look in the direction of the loud report just in time to see the driver of the vehicle rushing toward him with a gun aimed at his chest. Tommy Kelly was laying face down on the street with a single gunshot wound in the forehead fired from point-blank range. The driver of the vehicle pumped five bullets into Officer Neustrom's chest. Still conscious, but unable to move, Officer Neustrom fell across the front seat of the offender's car and lay motionless, feigning death. It was every policeman's nightmare enfolding before his eyes. The killer, his lust for blood still not sated, ran to the passenger side of the car and yanked Officer Neustrom out by his ankles and threw his bullet riddled body onto the street. Officer Neustrom lay defenseless as the offender put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger six more times... but, fortunately, the gun was empty. Miraculously, Officer Neustrom survived the attack. The two suspects fled from the scene on foot. They were captured sometime later miles and miles away from the scene. They were holed up in a house, ironically located directly across the street from the high school where Tommy Kelly's father had worked for so many years as the school engineer and only two blocks from where the Kelly boys grew up.
Though the swift apprehension of the murderer may have provided the Kelly family and Tommy's fiancee with some peace of mind, it did little to comfort them. Nothing would bring Tommy back. There would forever be a black hole in their hearts that nothing, or no one, could ever fill.
I didn't attend my first year anniversary party that evening.
Pat Crowley had been a good friend of Tommy Kelly's. He was also a good friend of mine. They were a cut from the same cloth. Both men were regarded among the rank and file as outstanding policemen and both men came from similar backgrounds. So, it was no surprise when Pat offered Tommy's fiancee a strong shoulder to lean on in her time of grief. And, it should have come as no surprise to anyone that the qualities she found in Tommy Kelly she also found in Pat Crowley.
"In every adversity, there is a seed of an equivalent or greater benefit," as the saying goes. And so, out of the despair and loss of a great friend and lover, blossomed a beautiful relationship. Tommy Kelly would have wanted it that way. To know that the woman he loved most in the life was being looked after by a man he loved and trusted.
But Joanne was still haunted by the terrible events that had inexorably altered her life forever. So when Pat proposed to her she told him quite candidly that although she loved him, she couldn't marry another Chicago policeman, an Irishman at that. She couldn't sit at home, night after night, afraid that the phone might ring. Afraid to watch the news and hear that another Chicago policeman had been shot and they couldn't release his name until the family was notified. She wouldn't be able to sleep at night, knowing he was on the street patrolling the bowels of the city. No, unless Pat changed occupations, there would be no marriage.
Pat was brokenhearted. Joanne was brokenhearted. Each understood the other's misery. The police department wasn't just a job for Pat; it's who he was. But could Joanne survive another tragic ordeal like that again? Pat knew the answer. No.
Consequently, Pat took the Chicago Fire Department exam and placed high on the list. He tried to convince Joanne that it was a less hazardous job but she knew better. But as it turned out, it was a moot point. When Pat was later called to report to the Fire Academy, he declined the position. He was a policeman, not a fireman.
Joanne's friends and family tried to convince her to look at this grave misfortune from a logical perspective. They all agreed that what had happened to Tommy Kelly was a terrible, terrible tragedy but it was an isolated incident. There are over thirteen thousand men on the Chicago Police Force at any given time, the overwhelming majority of whom will live to retire from the job with thirty or more years of service and collect a pension.
Finally, after a lot of prayers and cajoling, Pat Crowley and Joanne were wed.
* * *
On September 13, 1976, while conducting a narcotics raid, Officer Patrick Crowley was shot and killed. He sustained a single gunshot wound to the forehead, as did Officer Thomas Kelly six years earlier.
* * *
I remember the second time I saw her face. It was from a distance. Her dark eyes were haunted in pain. She wept loudly and her body convulsed as she labored down the stairs of the Catholic Church behind the flag-draped casket of Police Officer Patrick Crowley. She didn't know me and I knew very little about her...but I never forgot her name. Her name was Joanne.
Joanne, wherever you are, if you should ever happen by chance to read this, I want you to know you're still in the hearts and the minds and the prayers of Chicago Police Officers.
Copyright ( 2000 Dennis M. Banahan. All rights reserved.
MEMORIAL FUND IN HONOR OF JUAN J. BUCIO
The Ende, Menzer, Walsh & Quinn Retirees' Widows' and
Children’s Assistance Fund (EMWQ) is saddened to learn of the news of the recent passing of Chicago
Fire Department diver, Juan J. Bucio. The EMWQ has set up a Memorial Fund in honor of Juan J. Bucio.
100% of the proceeds donated to the EMWQ Juan Bucio Memorial Fund will go to Mr. Bucio’s family.
Juan J. Bucio, 46, is survived by his nine siblings, including a sister who is a member of the
Chicago Police Department and a brother who is a member of the Chicago Fire Department. He leaves
behind his two sons Joshua and Jacob, who are 10 and 9 years old.
The public can go to www.widowsandchildren.org to make a donation directly to Mr. Bucio’s
EMWQ Memorial Fund. Donations can also be made in person at any BMO Harris Bank branch, or by
mail to EMWQ Bucio Memorial Fund, 20 S. Clark St., Suite 1400, Chicago IL 60603 (checks payable to
“EMWQ Juan Bucio Memorial Fund”).