Reaction to Bauer death: 'no-nonsense approach' helped shift culture of policing
Loop North News

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(Above) 18th District Police Commander Paul Bauer speaks at the annual meeting of River North Residents Association on November 14, 2017.

14-Feb-18 – He was arguably the best-known police officer north of the Loop, often speaking to neighborhood organizations about crime in downtown Chicago and how residents can protect themselves.

18th police district commander Paul Bauer was killed on Tuesday afternoon, shot at James R. Thompson Center in the Loop by a man who was running from police.

“Today is an extremely difficult day for the Chicago police family,” said police superintendent Eddie Johnson.

The incident started just before 2:00 p.m. near State Street & Wacker Drive, about three blocks northeast of Thompson Center, when police tried to question a man about a recent shooting. The man was “acting suspiciously,” according to Johnson. There was a physical confrontation and the man ran away.

A description of the man was broadcast on police radio and Bauer, who was near Thompson Center for a training session, heard the description and saw the suspect near the front of the building. Another physical confrontation escalated, and the man shot Bauer multiple times. He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and at about 4:00 p.m., Johnson confirmed that Bauer, age 53, had died.

The suspect, meanwhile, was taken into custody and a weapon was recovered. Published reports describe him as a 44-year-old man who has been arrested several times.

Bauer had been commander of the 18th police district since July 2016, when he was promoted from captain. His 32 years as a Chicago police officer included leading the department’s Mounted Patrol Unit.

Photo by Steven Dahlman

Then a captain, Bauer (left) inspects officers at an outdoor roll call on East Hubbard Street on March 9, 2016. With headquarters on North Larrabee Avenue in River North, the 18th police district stretches from the Chicago River north to Fullerton Avenue, and from Lake Michigan west to the north branch of the Chicago River.

Johnson lived in the Bridgeport neighborhood south of the Loop with his wife and 13-year-old daughter. He participated in frequent Coffee with the Commander meetings, at which residents could ask questions and learn of public safety issues in the 18th district.

Frustrated with criminal justice system

At the annual meeting last November of River North Residents Association, Bauer expressed candid frustration with a system that he said puts criminals back on the street.

“Even when we catch somebody,” said Bauer, “there’s still a long way to go to get them off the street.”

He said there was a “high bar to prosecution” when it came to career offenders and he wanted to see more of them in jail.

“We’re not talking about the guy that stole a loaf of bread from the store to feed his family. We’re talking about career robbers, burglars, drug dealers. These are all crimes against the community. They need to be off the street.”

Chicago Police Department He noted that Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart was “very proud” of reducing the number of inmates at Cook County Jail.

“Maybe I’m jaded,” said Bauer (left), “I don’t think that’s anything to be proud of.”

A joint statement issued by 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins, 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack, 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly, and 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith said Bauer was “a brave police officer” and respected throughout the Chicago Police Department.

“His open-door, no-nonsense approach to policing helped shift the culture of policing in his district,” said the aldermen, whose wards include the 18th police district. “His actions today in assisting officers chasing a suspect shows his passion and commitment to the job, and in keeping the safety and security of our city. Commander Bauer’s intuition and understanding of the complexities of policing, combined with his open and honest approach in reporting on the issues faced in the district, helped better combat the challenges faced on the streets.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Bauer “stood for the highest ideals” of Chicago and its police department.

“His death is a tragic reminder of the dangerous duty the men and women of our police department accept to ensure the safety of us all.”

And Father Michael Pfleger, who may have been at odds with Bauer at times over gun violence in Chicago, recalled the commander as “always a gentleman and professional,” but said his death is but another tragedy for Chicago.

“This is but one more example of [a] day in which we lack value for each other’s life and where the easy access of guns continues to put all of our lives at risk.”

By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News | sdahlman@loopnorth.com

Published 14-Feb-18 4:46 AM

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