It is easy to forget how dangerous being an urban cop can be, especially when you are on the street. Almost lost in the news today is the story of the passing of Detective Joseph Airhart Jr. According to the Chicago Sun Times:
“On Aug. 28, 2001, Detective Airhart, then 45, was an Area 2 detective detailed to the FBI Bank Robbery Task Force. That day, he was part of a five-man crew trying to arrest Daniel Salley, a former tax consultant wanted in connection with several bank robberies. They tracked Salley to his fiancee’s apartment in the 1300 block of South Wabash, and Detective Airhart made the first contact, posing as a neighbor trying to deliver an errant package.After he was shot, more than two hours passed before he finally could to be taken from the apartment. Salley refused to allow medical treatment.
After about two hours, Salley asked to speak to an impartial observer. WLS-Channel 7 reporter Paul Meincke spoke with him by phone, and Salley soon surrendered.Detective Airhart suffered severe brain injuries. Over the next seven years, he made strides in his recovery but suffered setbacks as well. In 2006, his family said he was unable to walk, feed himself or breathe without the aid of a ventilator. Tuesday afternoon, the 25-year veteran of the Police Department died. He was 53.
You can remember Detective Airhart, Jr. and others who have given their life in the line of service by visiting the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.