I retired from the Chicago Police Department three years ago. Today, a small piece of my heart was again taken from me. You see, I watched a funeral today — but certainly not just any funeral. It was the funeral of heroic Chicago Police Officer Samuel Jimenez, who was senselessly shot and killed on November 19, 2018.
As I watched the funeral, I was both angry and sad. I am angry because only one local television station felt it was important enough to televise the funeral (Fox 32 Chicago). I am angry because a Catholic cardinal and a local politician who have been openly critical of the police and have supported lawless groups in their criminal actions spoke at the funeral. I am really angry because an idealistic, dedicated 28-year-old police officer had his life stolen from him by a cowardly criminal.
I am sad because a loving, close-knit family has lost its leader and its “rock.” I am sad because the Chicago Police Department has to bury one whom many have called a rising star on the department. I am sad because of the events that led to the death of Officer Jimenez. I am sad for so many reasons today, but I don’t have the space to write them all down. However, I don’t want to dwell on those empty, negative emotions of anger and sadness. I want to focus on the man and the police officer known as Samuel Jimenez.
Officer Jimenez wanted to be a Chicago police officer since he was a small child. He married his high school sweetheart and had three beautiful children. He recently adopted his niece. That action alone can attest to the character of this fine young man. Fellow police officers eulogized Officer Jimenez and told stories about how he always lit up and exhibited a beaming, proud smile when he talked about his wife and family. He spoke about how he couldn’t wait to get to the training academy to learn how to be a police officer. He always talked about how he loved being a police officer, serving his community and helping those who really needed it. To sum it up, he spoke about all the right reasons that someone becomes a cop.
The officers simply did what police officers do across the country every day with very little recognition.
But on November 19, 2018, this all came to a devastating and abrupt halt. A call was dispatched on the citywide radio of a 10-1. This means a cop needs immediate help. Officer Jimenez and his partner, Officer Zambrano, were on assignment from another district but heard the call, and without hesitation, they made the decision to respond to Mercy Hospital, where a woman had been shot in the parking lot. The evil offender then shot another defenseless woman as she exited the elevator inside the hospital, killing her. Officer Samuel Jimenez bravely confronted the killer in the lobby of the hospital, at which time his life was stolen from him as the cowardly offender shot him fatally in the neck. The offender was shot by another heroic Chicago police officer and then fatally shot himself.
We will never know how many lives were saved by the courageous, unselfish actions of Officer Jimenez that day. We will never know how this fine, young, new police officer’s career (18 months on the job), which had already begun to be noticed by his commanding officers for his fine work, would have played out. We will never know the future positive impact this outstanding young man would have on his community.
An anonymous citizen wrote a letter that was read at Officer Jimenez’s funeral. The letter thanked the brave men and woman of the Chicago Police Department for their service, and expressed to police officers everywhere that the majority of citizens do love, appreciate and support them. It was a reminder of the reasons why people take up the special calling of a police officer.
Yes, I watched a cop’s funeral today, and I’m sad and angry. But far more important, I am so very proud of the heroic actions of Officer Samuel Jimenez and the rest of the responding officers on this tragic day. The officers simply did what police officers do across the country every day with very little recognition. Maybe let’s just say thank you to a police officer today. Rest in peace, Officer Jimenez.
Ray Cowin is a 38-year veteran of law enforcement who retired in December 2015 as a lieutenant on the Chicago Police Department. He is currently a criminal justice instructor at Triton College in River Grove, Illinois, as well as at National Louis University and Benedictine University.