Dan Hooker never felt like he was working while on his beat in Mt. Greenwood.

The Chicago Police Department (CPD) officer just felt like he was meeting—and protecting—his friends.

The 22nd District walking patrolman in Mt. Greenwood for almost 18 years has now retired, and on Jan. 9, during his final week, the Morgan Park resident was treated to a surprise party at Hippo’s by many of the business owners and residents he safeguarded.

Hooker, with the CPD for over three decades, said he “couldn’t have had a better job … working in a community I care about.”

His career went beyond earning a paycheck.

“The relationships that I was able to build through the years—it’s just incredible,” Hooker said. “After a while, it was almost like this isn’t even a job to me anymore. This is like my friends I’m out here with. I have a relationship with so many of these people who I’ve gotten to really care about because they’re just regular people who live and work in the community who are out there making a living. And I have the good fortune to be a walking patrolman out here.”

Hooker was assigned to the 22nd District in 1994, beginning as walking patrolman in Mt. Greenwood in March 2001. His territory spanned from Sacramento Avenue to Pulaski Road, from 103rd to 112th streets.

His last day on his beat was Jan. 13, and he officially retired on Jan. 15. He said he plans to relax for a while and take advantage of his family’s townhome in Arizona.

Hooker had no idea about the surprise party, and he thought he and his wife, Mary, were headed to a nearby restaurant. Instead, she told him to follow her to Hippo’s.

About 20 people were waiting, including Mt. Greenwood Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Darlene Myers, who owns Baron’s Shoes in Mt. Greenwood.

Hooker said that to begin his workday, he checked in with his CPD watch commander.

“Then, after that I go see my second watch commander—and that’s Darlene Myers,” he quipped. “I’ve got to go see her because she’s got to tell me what I need to do for the day. We kind of go over, ‘What do you know, and what have you heard?’ Then I could get tuned in and make sure I can complete my day the right way.”

Myers said Hooker provided her with his work schedule for the year. But, she knew she could reach out to him at any time.

“I even call him on his days off,” Myers said. “I even called him when he was in Arizona.”

Hooker credited Myers for making his job enjoyable.

“Darlene and I go back to Day One,” Hooker said. “She’s been out here a long time. If it wasn’t for Darlene, I wouldn’t have been out here for as long as I’ve been out here—I’m quite sure of that. Darlene is like a big sister to me.”

Hooker grew up in the Hegewisch neighborhood, and after he married Mary, they bought a home in the parish of St. Cajetan Roman Catholic Church, where they have lived since 1990. They have two children—Samantha, 31, and Kirk, 28.

Hooker also served in the 5th (Calumet), 3rd (Grand Crossing) and 4th (South Chicago) districts.

He enjoys working out, so in retirement he’ll visit the gym in the morning to stay busy. He’s still figuring out what he’ll do during the afternoon—perhaps down the line, he’ll get another job.

An avid baseball fan, Hooker looks forward to watching Major League Baseball teams conduct spring training in Arizona.

The winter sunshine out west, he said, will be another benefit of retirement.

“My wife and I are going to be kind of snowbirds,” Hooker said. “We’re going to follow the better weather.”