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Forty years ago today, I started on a journey that shaped my life…

As part of what was affectionally known as the “Valentine’s Day Massacre” recruitment class, my fellow classmates walked through the doors of the Chicago Police Academy on February 14, 1983.

Referring back to the notorious event in 1929 when Al Capone’s men made headlines around the world, the men and women who started at the academy that day faced the often violent streets of the “Windy City” with hearts full of pride, loins full of vigor, and minds filled with great anticipation.

Chicago Police Training Center

I never learned why the department decided to start a recruit class on this notorious day, but I don’t think anyone even cared. What we cared about was being “the police,” helping the good citizens of this beloved city, capturing the “bad guys,” and serving and protecting the city bestowed with the motto “I will.”

So, the class went forward with this spirit…

After completing the academy training, we were assigned to districts to work with FTO’s…until being scheduled for layoffs on August 28, 1983. Citing a “serious financial crisis,” we received a letter from then Police Superintendent Fred Rice (who I later had the pleasure to work with at Calumet College). This letter burst a lot of bubbles.

Yet the layoffs never happened. Even when faced with a “financial crisis,” it was too politically “hot” to actually let freshly trained police officers go. Looking back, it is notable that at that time, it is political suicide to lay off police officers. 

Now, the defunding movement has changed the nature of policing for the foreseeable future…

However this all plays out, my heart and soul is still with CPD. Having worked with and for many wonderful people, and for the good citizens of the city I grew up in, I was committed to serve and protect this city. Forty years on, this experience still matters to me…more than I can describe.

To all those currently on “the job,” and those who have moved on, we have all experienced the “bond” that was shaped in the building depicted in the pamphlet below. I honor your service and your desire to protect. God speed and take good care…!

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