Daughter to Follow In Slain Officer's Footsteps
Pamela Bailey, wife of Chicago Police Officer Michael Bailey, and their daughter Jada Bailey are escorted by Chicago Police Officer Michael Ostrowski. [AP]
Chicago Tribune via Yellowbrix
April 27, 2011
CHICAGO – Nine months after her father was gunned down in his police uniform outside his home July 18, an emotional Jada Bailey and her mother carefully retired his badge to the Superintendent’s Honored Police Star case at Chicago Police headquarters Tuesday morning.
If the young woman gets her way, Michael Bailey’s star number 13970 will soon be replaced on Chicago’s streets with her own.
The 24-year-old revealed her courageous plan to follow in her slain father’s footsteps and take the police entrance exam after hundreds of brother officers in dress blues and Mayor Daley honored her father in a somber ceremony.
“I think that’s something that he’d be very proud of, to see that I’m doing something I was born to do,” Jada Bailey said as she held her mother, Pamela’s, hand.
Her father’s murder — one of three police slayings in a two-month period last summer, during a brutal year that saw six CPD officers killed — remains unsolved, despite a cash reward of more than $130,000. But his daughter, a police cadet, said the outpouring of love and support from his colleagues in the wake of his death meant she never thought twice about applying to the police academy.
“If it were not for him, I would never have seen a different side of the police department,” she said. “The police department is not only there for public service, but they have offered my family so much gratitude. It’s much more than people see on the surface — it runs much deeper — the way they extended themselves to our family, the way they honored my father.”
Bailey was just weeks away from retirement and had just finished working the night shift protecting Mayor Daley’s home when a gunman fatally shot him as he cleaned his Buick Regal outside his home in the 7400 block of South Evans in the Park Manor neighborhood. His family moved out later that month.
Speaking at Tuesday’s ceremony, the mayor said that he had met Bailey when Bailey was on the security detail at his home, describing the 62-year-old as “very kind and considerate not only to my family, but also to the entire community.”
“Being a member of the Chicago Police Department wasn’t just a job, he told me, it was a calling, a way of life.”
Fraternal Order of Police President Michael Shields said Bailey was “an example of what a man should be, well respected and highly regarded both at home and in their community, a leader, a man amongst men, unlike the coward who took his life . . . ”
Bailey’s star was installed next to those of three police officers: Luke Howe, fatally injured Aug. 25, 1928, while transporting a prisoner; George Bryja, who suffered a heart attack while apprehending vandals July 27, 1966, and Thomas Wortham, shot dead by thieves who stole his motorcycle May 19 last year. Gesturing to those stars, Shields said the case of 480 honored stars “represent what commitment and sacrifice is all about.”
Told that Jada Bailey will take the police physical “power exam” May 9, Shields, himself a third generation cop, said, “God bless her.”
Bailey’s wife, Pamela, said she’s sure there are witnesses who know who killed her husband but have yet to come forward.
“They know — somebody knows . . . this code of silence is awful and that’s something that needs to be broken, because how would they feel if it was their family?” she said.