You Can Never Go Back

10

You can never go back. That’s what they say. What is past is gone forever. Move on. Don’t look back.

That’s even more true for cops, I suppose. You work the street for years, and then you’re promoted and catch a special assignment that keeps you inside. It’s nice. You feel like you’ve accomplished something. It’s not that you didn’t like the street. You did. As a matter of fact, after several more years “inside,” you begin to realize that you loved the street. It was exciting. It was fun. And you really miss it. But you can never go back. Yet another promotion and increased responsibilities… inside. You are told you are “too valuable” to the department in your present assignment. You retire and go on to other things. It is painfully obvious now. You can never go back.

Well, almost never. If you happen to have a son, who that for some inexplicable reason decides to follow in your footsteps, and if that son decides to ask you to go on a ride along with him for a night, well, maybe you can go back. Just for a night. It’s a rookie’s ultimate expression of self-confidence to ask his dad, a retired lieutenant with twenty-nine, 29 years of service, to ride with him. It says a lot. “I am a cop too, Dad.” It’s a very adult version of, “Look at me, Dad!” On a more profound level, it says, “I share your love for the job, Dad. Let me share a night with you …”

And so for eight hours we rode together, not as father and son, not as rookie and lieutenant, but as a couple of cops in a beat car doing what cops do. It was not an exceptional night from a law enforcement perspective; the tools had changed, handheld radios, in car data terminal, light bar with strobes and take down lights pointing to each side. And the players on the street were familiar—it was same circus, just different clowns. But it was a profoundly exceptional night from a personal perspective because for that microcosm in time we were partners.

Jay-Dad-Stauration Patrol

Did you enjoy this post? Check out our book, On Being a Cop, fifty-two more father/son memoirs from the streets of Chicago. www.onbeingacop.com

Showing 10 comments

  • Thomas V Rosati
    Reply

    God bless you both and your families. Great stories which I can relate to. Thanks!

  • Bill Reynolds
    Reply

    Jim, it”s so nice to read about your experience sharing that special bond only found among police personnel with your son. I too, was able to share that experience with my son. Now, the opportunity to share it with a 3rd generation presents itself. My grandson starts the academy a week from tomorrow.

  • Bill Blethen
    Reply

    Jim I remember will the time I spent in the back of your squad car.
    Bill

    • Jim Padar
      Reply

      Let’s clarify that Bill…you and Ed were ridealongs, not prisoners. 🙂

      My partner Mike and I were disappointed it was such a quiet night but I guess you and Ed thought otherwise.

  • William Jell
    Reply

    Great as always.

    You might get a kick out of this. On Facebook there is a group that contains a bunch of Old Town hippies that just had a reunion in Lincoln Park. Among the reminiscing were names of some of the cops that arrested them. Nothing nasty, but Bill Sullivan and Tony Rigone and Judge Wendt were mentioned. I’m assuming you knew them all.

    Talk about “special bonds” and remembering people who had an influence in your life. 50 years later and they still remember coppers who they interacted with. I find a certain level of irony and immortality in that. I’ll bet you never dreamed of that possibility on patrol in the 1960s.

    The group is Chicago Old Town in the 1960’s

    Thanks and please keep writing,
    Bill

    • Jim Padar
      Reply

      Bill,

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Given nearly fifty years to reflect on the DNC ’68 Convention, my views have morphed quite a bit.

      Sunday, August 25, 1968 was a warm summer day. Police and “demonstrators” gathered in Lincoln Park and eyed one another warily, but before long a softball game broke out, Pigs versus Hippies, and we had fun! There were a few hours where I think everybody thought this thing would work out amicably. After dark we were recalled to regroup and standby. Shortly after 11 PM we formed a skirmish line on the lake side of the park and proceeded to “clear the park,” laying down tear gas as we went. All of us were pawns that day—the police pawns of Richard J. Daley and the demonstrators pawns of Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and that group. It was a bizarre scene and Hoffman viewed it from the living room of one of the brownstones on Lincoln Park West and in that moment, he knew he had set the tone for the rest of the week.

      • William Jell
        Reply

        Yes sir. I remember Mr Hoffman, et al. They were there to create chaos and they readily admitted it. The Country was divided (almost like today), Viet Nam was the catalyst and the stage was set. Even at 15-16, I knew that fighting with the police was not going to change anything. Besides when you were a victim of crime who were you going to call PO5-1313 or Abbie Hoffman?

        Actually the convention never came up in the Facebook group that I saw. It was more stories about pot busts, cat and mouse games and the lot – 50 years on.

        I guess as the song goes, “what a long strange trip it’s been…”

        Thanks,
        Bill

  • William Jell
    Reply

    Just bought your book today!

    Couple of questions. Did you know Bud Hurley in 018 (retired and deceased)? I never knew him but worked with one of his sons for years. He was a “wheelman”. Isn’t that what you call cops that worked the paddy wagons? I have heard that most of them were a different kind of individual. Comments?

    Any comments on the “coppers curse” (of which you fortunately are an exception) of how many retired cops don’t live that long after retirement. Or is that a just a bunch of hogwash?

    Thanks,
    Bill

  • Jonathon Goldsmith
    Reply

    My favorite cops who arrested me were Rogers (or Rodgers) and Ocampo.

    I worked at the same job for a few decades. I retired two years ago. I got a letter yesterday asking me to come back to work, in December. I said yes. It will be extremely interesting to walk through those doors again.

  • Katie Rorison
    Reply

    Such a great read, very well written Jim. You really take the reader into the personal, relatable side of police work which usually, when police are given the opportunity to talk to the public, is in a strict professional capacity and this personableness doesn’t shine through. Not only is the bond between you and your son lovely to read, but also what this speaks to in a wider sense in that police families are a different, and special kind of family providing support (for one another – this two-way support is an important thing) so ultimately, a member/s of that family can serve and protect. We recently published a blog about how important #bluefamily support is and how the job of a police officer is not only sometimes hard on the officer, but also on their family. It can be read via this link: https://behindthebadgeaustralia.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/most-police-wouldnt-be-able-to-do-their-jobs-without-this/.

    Keep up your fabulous stories.
    Cheers,
    Katie

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