Twelve Times This Year
Just ninety minutes ago, Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer was shot and killed. He was attempting to apprehend a man who robbed a coffee shop near the State of Illinois Thompson Center. Since it’s so soon after the shooting the details of the events are still unknown or unclear. This we do know, a Chicago Police Department commander was across the street in City Hall when he monitored his radio and heard the robbery call. He ran across the street to assist and confronted the offender inside the Thompson Center building. The commander was shot at least twice.
The robbery offender was taken into custody by other responding officers. An ambulance responded, and witnesses report the paramedics were working valiantly to save the commander as he was transported to the ambulance and then to the Emergency Room. He was pronounced dead from his traumatic wounds.
Across the US this makes 12 officers killed in the line of duty in the first six weeks of 2018. Twelve families ripped apart by criminal violence. More children who no longer have a father or mother. More parents who must bury their child.
I just heard a local reporter on the news who knew the commander say, “Chicago lost a great guy today.” You could hear him fight back sobs while he reported. This was very personal for him as well as the members of the police force gathered outside the hospital.
We get hardened by the high numbers until they hit home. I’d met Commander Bauer when he was a lieutenant, but can’t say I knew him well. What brought it home was all the officers at the crime scene and the hospital that I knew much better. I’d had a few beers or a cup of coffee with so many of them. It could have been any one of them.
Is this now the way we live? Is it more dangerous to go to City Hall or the Chicago seat of our state government? When will people see police officers are just like this commander? They see a crime was committed and they act. They’re not the bloodthirsty monsters that so many people in a position of power try to paint them.
We can expect an Honors funeral for Commander Bauer in the next few days. Dress uniforms will be taken out of dry cleaner bags. Shoes will be shined. A family will rush to make sure their children are dressed properly for the funeral. On the day of the funeral, a police motorcade will accompany the funeral procession. Police squad cars from all over the country will line up and join in. Bagpipers will play Amazing Grace. Men and women in blue will shed tears while standing at attention.
Then a few days later this will all fade into the shadows for most of our country. Only those who knew the commander will remember. After a few more days, the news will tell of another officer or two shot, possibly killed in another part of the country. The crying will start fresh for that family and that family in blue.
You don’t have these issues if you are a carpenter or accountant. Selling insurance won’t usually get you killed in the line of duty. These are good jobs for hard-working people, but it isn’t the same. Police officers are something special. Their spouses know it and they are just as special.
Commander Paul Bauer was not on duty. He was at City Hall on his own time. Possibly visiting his wife who worked there. As he left the building he heard the events on his radio and went to see if he could help. Not because it was his job, not because people might see him go the other way. He was not in uniform and could have easily gone home but he went to help. It was his nature. It becomes the nature of most all police officers. They want to help.
Tonight, I say another prayer for a fallen officer. Twelve this year. God bless the 12.
Run low and zig zag,
– Robert Weisskopf