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'He wanted more excitement'

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August 09, 2004

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'He wanted more excitement'

Officer Down: Chicago Police Officer Michael Gordon - [Chicago, Illinois]

'He wanted more excitement'

Michael Gordon remembered as smart, aggressive cop

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

By John Dobberstein
Staff writer

Riverside Police Chief Gene Karczewski can remember the conversation.
His young cop, Michael Gordon, wanted a piece of Chicago's tough streets.

Karczewski told him to think about it.

"I tried to discourage him from going," said Karczewski, himself a 30-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department.

"I said here (in Riverside), you know everybody, you can sit in the chief's office and shoot the breeze, and you can't always do that in Chicago.

"He wanted more excitement."

Gordon took a pay cut to join the Chicago Police Department in October 2002. He worked the midnight shift in Chicago's crime-plagued Harrison District, already making a name for himself after arresting a suspect in a recent carjacking.

But early Sunday, his promising career ended when a drunken driver slammed into Gordon's police cruiser, killing the married father of four and seriously injuring his partner.

On Monday, a family of police officers was left grieving.

Gordon's father, Robert Gordon, retired in 2003 as assistant chief at Riverside's police department.

Michael Gordon's uncle Joseph Pufpaf is a Chicago police officer and Gordon's cousin Thomas Pufpaf is a Chicago police lieutenant. Michael Gordon's brother Bob is an officer in Broadview.

Karczewski said he spent five or six hours Sunday consoling Robert Gordon, who was a big influence on his son's law enforcement career.

"It's very difficult. They're kind of in shock," Karczewski said.

Gordon's family couldn't be reached for comment Monday.

About 5:45 a.m. Sunday, 26-year-old Luis Calle was driving west on Jackson Boulevard in a 1994 Nissan Altima when he ran a red light at Sacramento Avenue and sideswiped Gordon's car, police said.

Both Gordon and his partner John Dalcason were thrown from the vehicle. Gordon, 30, was pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital less than an hour later.

Calle also was pronounced dead at Stroger a short time after the collision. Police said Calle's blood-alcohol content at the time of the crash was .177 — twice the legal limit.

Gordon, who grew up in Cicero, joined the Army in 1994 and became a military police officer attached to the 82nd Airborne. He was honorably discharged in 1999 after serving in Bosnia and Korea.

A year later, Gordon launched his career at the Riverside Police Department, where his father worked.

In just over two years there, Gordon was named "officer of the month" three times and was frequently honored for his aggressive police work, Karczewski said.

"He was very sharp and sophisticated for his age. He was somebody you would be proud to have as your son," Karczewski said. "He was loyal to the police department and the profession. That's a rare thing in today's 'me' generation."

The last Chicago police officer killed in a crash while on duty was Sgt. Philip O'Reilly. The 41-year-old's police car was struck by tow truck in March 2003.

Chicago police spokesman Pat Camden said Gordon was "very aggressive" and talented, and he would be missed.

"He was a good police officer," Camden said, "and it's a shame anybody has to die at such a young age."

John Dobberstein may be reached at jdobberstein@dailysouthtown.com or (708) 633-5992.

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