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Slain Chicago Police Commander Was 31-Year Veteran Who Joined A Foot Chase Without Hesitation

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter

Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer’s final act in a decorated career was to join fellow officers in a foot pursuit through the heart of his downtown district.

Bauer, a 31-year police department veteran, was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon while attempting to detain a suspect who was being pursued by a tactical team in the Chicago Loop. The commander, who happened to be in the area for a meeting, immediately responded to radio calls that a suspect was on the run nearby.

Details of the incident remain unclear, but Chicago police say Bauer encountered the suspect in a stairwell outside the Thompson Center, a Loop office building that houses Illinois state government offices. A struggle ensued, and Bauer was shot multiple times.

As news of Bauer’s killing spread, shocked colleagues mourned the loss of a veteran commander known as a steady leader who deftly handled the pressure of commanding police in the city’s highest profile district. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson offered condolences Tuesday night to officers under Bauer’s command.

“He was an individual defined by his decency and his sense of duty. He loved his family, he loved the Police Department, he loved the neighborhood of Bridgeport and he loved the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “I ask each of us, in the days ahead, if you see Chicago’s officers doing their job, reach out to them as a member of your family. Thank them.”

Police took the suspect, who has not been publicly named, into custody Tuesday. As of Wednesday morning, formal charges had not been filed, but police said they expected to file charges within 36 hours. Meanwhile, investigators are reviewing video, social media, and evidence gathered from the autopsy, the Tribune reported.

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Bauer is the first Chicago police officer to be shot and killed in the line of duty since 2011. He became commander of CPD’s Near North District in 2016, following stints as the commander of the department’s mounted patrol unit and as a tactical lieutenant on the city’s near West Side.

Bauer had recently criticized Chicago’s justice system for what he saw as excessive lenience in prosecuting and jailing career criminals.

“We’re not talking about the guy that stole a loaf of bread from the store to feed his family,” Bauer told the Loop North News last year, according to the Tribune. “We’re talking about career robbers, burglars, drug dealers. These are all crimes against the community. They need to be off the street.”

The suspect in Bauer’s killing is a four-time convicted felon, police said.

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