A hus­band, fa­ther, neigh­bor and good Chicago cop

Chicago Sun-Times - - POLITICS -

Adaugh­ter’s fa­ther died to­day. A woman’s hus­band died. A Chicago Po­lice of­fi­cer died.

We, as a city, so of­ten see only the last. The of­fi­cer in his uni­form, the sym­bol of law and or­der, of au­thor­ity and pro­tec­tion.

If only we could see them all— the hus­band and the fam­ily man, the friend and the neigh­bor, the of­fi­cer on the job. If only we could see them all the time, not just when an of­fi­cer is killed in the line of duty. When it is too late. We found our­selves star­ing Tues­day af­ter­noon at this photo of Po­lice Cmdr. Paul Bauer— not the one in which he proudly wears his uni­form, but this one. He is hold­ing his daugh­ter Grace’s hand. She is hold­ing his hand to her cheek.

This is the way we want to re­mem­ber Cmdr. Bauer, in his polo shirt and dad shorts, with his lit­tle girl by his side. He was her pro­tec­tor, and he was our pro­tec­tor, and those two things are not un­re­lated.

We have never known a po­lice of­fi­cer who did not be­come a cop for the best of rea­sons— to serve and pro­tect, at some level ac­cept­ing our city as an ex­ten­sion of fam­ily.

Cmdr. Bauer was only 53 when he was killed on Tues­day, hardly old enough to col­lect a lit­tle gray hair. He had joined the Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment in 1986, when he was just 21.

He was just old enough then to buy a le­gal drink, to know the world is an un­safe place, to want to be one of the good guys. He worked all over town, nights and days, and climbed the ranks.

That’s how it goes when you’re a Chicago cop. You head off to work each day be­fore the dew is off the grass or when the sun is go­ing down, and as you say good­bye to your fam­ily, a lit­tle part of you— and a lit­tle part of them — says a prayer that youmake it home again.

We don’t know much about how Cmdr. Bauer was killed. We’ll learn soon enough. We know only that he con­fronted a sus­pect at the Thomp­son Cen­ter, and the sus­pect ap­par­ently opened fire.

Cmdr. Bauer, that is to say, was do­ing his job, which in­volves mov­ing to­ward dan­ger, not away.

We would like to re­mem­ber him as we see him in this photo, out of uni­form and with his lit­tle girl, be­cause we be­lieve it would be very good if our city saw ev­ery of­fi­cer in this way— as a man or woman who is do­ing a job we are so glad to have done.

Some­where to­day, a wife and a daugh­ter are cry­ing, and so should we all.


Grace Bauer, then 5, takes a mo­ment for a photo with her dad, then- Lt. Paul Bauer of the Chicago Mounted Po­lice Unit, as they leave a Fa­ther’s Day Mass at Gold StarPark in 2010.

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