THE FALLEN OFFICER PROJECT
A five year project to research and compile a comprehensive list of fallen officers with the most complete demographic and incident data ever assembled.
Over the past several decades fallen officers have been recorded and compiled on various lists. These lists have changed and expanded over the years with information recorded about each officer varying. Even the classification of how and the type of death has changed. Definitions have shifted and the meaning of words have been conflated. Initially these lists contained just the officer’s name, star number, precinct / district of assignment, date of incident / death and a small synopsis of what occurred. As time passed by the lists began to grow and eventually more and more information was recorded.
In early 2009, Police Officer Michael Chuchro #4059 was determined to develop the most comprehensive and complete list of fallen officers compiled to date. He began by compiling a list of all known fallen officers from three major sources; The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation (CPMF), The Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP) and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF). This list was published on ChicagoCop.com and only compiled the following information; Agency, Rank / Title, Name (Last, First, Middle, Suffix), Star #, Age, Appointed Date, End of Watch Date, Years of Service, Cause of Death, Unit of Assignment, Military Service, Fraternal Organization Memberships and whether they were listed on the CPMF, ODMP or NLEOMF Memorials.
This list became a starting point for the project and the effort to compile a more comprehensive list was entitled “The Fallen Officer Project,” the work beginning in earnest in January of 2010.
Collect and archive all official sources that would have contained information necessary to research any and all missing information. Those documents included the Chicago Police Department Annual Reports, Main 13 Magazine, Police 1313 Magazine, The Chicago Police Newsletter, Chicago Police Star Magazine, PAX 501, Daily / Special Bulletins and Unit Designation Special Orders. The internet was scoured for the above publications, however not much was available. The bulk of what was found was the Chicago Police Department Annual Reports. The next batch of materials came in through retired Inspector Joseph Maratto. He provided a large lot of Chicago Police Star Magazines which were then digitized. Officer Chuchro also spent numerous hours at the Main Branch of the Chicago Public Library scanning other reference materials pertinent to this project. Once digitized all of the files were carefully cataloged and processed for Optical Character Recognition (OCR), placed in our Documents Archive and made available to the public. In addition to digitizing printed content online databases relevant to the project were also identified and cataloged.
Once all the reference materials were compiled the existing list of officers was expanded from 15 points of information to 24 points of information. The following information points were added; Incident Date, Date of Birth, Temporary Appointment Date, District of Incident (Present Day), Death Classification, Cemetery, Duty Status, Illinois Police Officers Memorial (IPOM) and Narrative of Incident. In addition to the new data points, the list was merged with the names in the book “End of Watch.” A chronological and complete list of Precinct and District / Unit Organization using the archived records was conducted. This step would become crucial to accurately reflect the officer’s true unit of assignment at the time of their death.
Research also uncovered new officers that have not been recognized by the Chicago Police Department or other Memorials. Their names were added to the list along with officers from other agencies, specifically park districts and the Chicago Housing and Aviation Police Departments which have been annexed, disbanded and/or absorbed into the Chicago Police Department. In addition to the redefined “Death Classification” (Line of Duty vs. Performance of Duty) conducted under the Cline Administration in order to conform to National Standards, two new classifications “Military Service Deaths” and “Canine & Equine Duty Deaths” were added. The Military Service classification identifies and recognizes known officers serving in the military and who were killed in service to the United States of America in wartime. The Canine & Equine Duty Deaths classification recognizes those police dogs and police horses that have been killed or died in service to the City of Chicago.
Utilize available sources to identify and verify accurate/inaccurate, incomplete, and/or missing information points. Examples include Spelling of Names, Star Numbers, Dates (Appointment, Incident, End of Watch, and Birth), Years of Service, Age, District / Unit of Assignment, District of Death (Present Day), Cemetery, Family Members, Military Service / Fraternal Organizations and any other demographic information that could be obtained. During this phase Officer Chuchro worked closely with personnel from the Chicago police Department’s Human Resources Division to locate and gather the missing information. Administrative Assistant III Edward Griffin assisted Officer Chuchro by directing him to officer personnel jackets from the years 1910 thru 1959. Officer Chuchro then pulled every officers jacket that had died between those years. In the end only three officer’s jackets were unable to be located out of the hundreds of officers killed in that time frame. The following points of information were notated; Rank, Name, Birthday, Appointment Dates, End of Watch Date, Precinct / District of Assignment, Awards History, Promotional History and previous occupation in the case of a Firefighter or Policeman. Mr. Griffin also assisted in looking up Star Cards for officers whom had no Star # listed on any of the memorial lists. With photos located during research the star numbers of five officers were identified. Administrative Service Officer II Jermeka Jackson assisted with locating missing points of information for officers from 1961 through the present.
Develop a method for standardizing and categorizing “Causes of Death” and “Precinct / District of Death.” Additionally identify the exact location of each incident for every officer and identify the present day “District of Death.” The “Unit of Assignment” and “District of Incident” information points were developed to accurately record where the officer was assigned and where the officer was killed. These two information points had been previously conflated and record keeping became inaccurate. The Unit of Assignment was designed to be time period specific and does not reflect the present day organization of the police department. The unit listed is that of which the officer was assigned to at the time of his/her death. The District of Death was designed to be to NOT be time period specific. Rather, it reflects the present day location in which the incident of the officer’s murder / death occurred and may or may not be the same precinct / district it was at the time of the officer’s death. When an officer died outside the corporate boundaries of the city of Chicago, the District of Death was recorded by city and state / country.
A full audit of the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case comparing the Panel #, Name, Star #, Unit of Assignment and Star Design enshrined in the case was conducted. Officer Chuchro also noted if the encased star was a reproduction or the officer’s field worn star that was encased. During this audit several anomalies were identified, i.e. misspelled names, incorrect unit of assignment and the incorrect star design in the case of reproductions.
Identify and record the panel #’s for the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation (CPMF), The Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP), Illinois Police Officers Memorial (IPOM), and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) Memorials for each officer. It was with the culmination of this massive undertaking that we are now able to memorialize the sacrifices that these officers have made.
Ensure that the completed research was turned over to the Chicago Police Department for inclusion on the Department’s Intranet. In 2015, Officer Chuchro was detailed to Unit 125 – Information Services Division, Application Development Section. In his capacity as a Project Manager within that unit he brought the Fallen Officer Project to the attention of Sergeant Carl Hattula and requested permission to head an official Department sanctioned project to memorialize the officers’ on the Department’s intranet. Permission was granted and the “Blue Pages” was created. In addition to the Department Phone Directory and Command Staff Roster all fallen officers were added and for the first time in Chicago Police Department history the list would be made available to members of the Department. With this project complete, Officer Chuchro then requested permission to head a second project creating a widget called “Always Remembered” to be placed on the intranet’s homepage. This widget displays the officers who were killed on their anniversary date. If there are no officers with an anniversary date for the day, three officers are chosen at random and displayed.
Once the “Blue Pages” and the “Always Remembered” widget were out of development and tested, approval was sought from Deputy Chief Jonathan Lewin to release them internally. Per the direction of Deputy Chief Lewin, Officer Chuchro was directed to seek approval from Superintendent Johnson via the Director of News Affairs Anthony Guglielmi. The Superintendent subsequently authorized the release and ordered all officers to be displayed on the Department’s Intranet in addition to those enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case. On September 1, 2016, the Blue Pages and Always Remembered Widget went live.