SAU Buzz

A City Grows Stronger

by Kasey Zielinski
Posted on Mar 03, 2018

On Feb. 13, 2018, many citizens of Chicago was left heartbroken with news of a fatal shooting involving a police officer. Paul Bauer (53) was known throughout his neighborhood for his humility and genuine character. He lost his life in the line of duty and was added to the list of 580 Chicago police officers that have died from injuries received while on duty.

Bauer was fatally shot while in pursuit of a four-time felon who was carrying a gun outside the Thompson Center in the city. As the police commander of the 18th district, Bauer was no longer required to work on the streets, but he was nearby when he heard over the police radio that an individual was fleeing on foot from a routine drug stop. After hearing this, Bauer joined in the chase and followed the man into a staircase where he was shot several times.

Leaving behind heartbroken family and friends, Bauer was always visiting with community members and trying to build gaps between Chicago neighborhoods and keeping tabs on the people he had worked his entire life to protect.  Bauer’s family joked that he was the “ambassador of the neighborhood,” keeping senior citizens on the block company or helping shovel driveways and mow lawns even as a little boy.

The officer leaves behind a wife, Erin, and a 13-year-old daughter, Grace. They laid Bauer to on what would have been his and Erin’s sixteenth anniversary. He was more devoted to them than anything else.

Bauer did not always want to be a policeman, but after going through school, he quickly realized that he could not work a desk job.

Bauer served as commander of the city’s Near North police district, but he worked all over the city in a career that spanned nearly 32 years, including 67 awards of recognition and spots on various specialized enforcement teams. His assignments included stints in South Side districts, as a tactical lieutenant on the Near West Side and in the department’s elite mounted patrol unit, which friends said was his favorite assignment.

“I was always intrigued by Cmdr. Bauer,” Rev. Randall K. Blakey, executive director of the Near North Unity Program, told the Chicago Tribune.

Two months ago, the program honored Bauer with its annual Community Advocate Award.

“Every time I interacted with him and every time I watched him interact with others, he always carried himself as a true gentleman,” Blakey said. “He just went above and beyond for this community and he loved what he did.”

The funeral procession was made up of hundreds of Chicago citizens standing behind a man who seemed larger than life to many. The funeral was so large that the procession took 45 minutes to pass through some parts of the city.

In an emotional letter to the city, widowed Erin Bauer thanked the people of Chicago for the overwhelming amount of support that has been shown for her late husband and for restoring her faith in humanity. It was published by several different newspapers.

I saw people of every color taking time out of their day,” Bauer wrote, “not only to pay respects to Paul, but to the entire Chicago Police Department. They are the men and women who selflessly put their lives on the line each day to protect people they don’t even know. They are my new family.”

Learning in the news that a police officer was killed in the line of duty is never easy to hear. When something like this breaks the heart of a city, there is a void that is left the streets. But the people of Chicago seemed to come together in a way they normally may not. The unity and support that has shown through the death of Cmdr. Bauer speaks volumes about the kind of man he was and the kind of city that Chicago is.