Get Behind the Vest

What could have been another tragic incident in a frightening year for the Chicago Police Department (CPD) can now be considered another reminder of an easy and effective way to support police officers.

According to police, a 6th District officer was shot in his protective vest on Nov. 20 during an incident near 87th Street and Ashland Avenue. The officer was pursuing a fleeing suspect, police said, when the suspect shot at him, striking him in the back of the vest.

The officer was treated at Little Company of Mary Hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson in visiting the officer at the hospital before speaking at a press conference at nearby St. Bernadette Church on the day of the shooting. Emanuel noted all the good work the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation does in providing new protective vests for officers. The vests need to be replaced every five years and can cost over $500.

The foundation’s Get Behind the Vest campaign, launched in 2014, seeks to raise $4 million to replace 8,000 outdated vests.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have come in, including from the 19th Ward, which has supported pancake breakfasts that 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea has hosted in local parishes since 2015. Several schools and businesses have made substantial donations.

The officer from the 6th District was shot a day after another officer, Samuel Jimenez, was fatally shot during an altercation at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center in which two hospital employees, Tamara O’Neal and Dayna Less, were also killed. Gun violence can occur anywhere, and people should remember and give thanks that police officers run toward gunshots while others run away.

Officers are regularly involved in situations that can escalate to fatal violence in seconds.

In a 2017 media report, CPD Officer Martin Hernandez said he “wouldn’t be here” if not for his vest after he was shot at close range by a suspect.

Citizens can do their part to protect CPD officers by donating to the Get Behind the Vest campaign.

Donations may be mailed to 1407 W. Washington Blvd., Chicago, IL 60607.

For more information on the campaign, call the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation at (312) 499-8899 or visit cpdmemorial.org.