Weather can’t stop officer on bike

Posted: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 11:23 am
by Caroline Connors, The Beverly Review

Chicago Police Officer Joe Hurley has been patrolling the streets of Beverly by mountain bike for the past three years, but you won’t hear him complaining about the weather, even as another blast of snow and arctic cold sweeps across the region.  “You just have to dress for it,” Hurley said. “You get used to it.”

A member of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) for the past 14 years, Hurley is assigned to the foot patrol post that runs along Western Avenue from 99th to 111th streets. He had already received bike training from the CPD, Hurley said, when he requested and received permission to use one of the district’s seven bikes for the assignment.

“I first started using the bike when I was in the CAPS office,” Hurley said. “On days when I didn’t have meetings, I would take it and cruise the local parks when baseball was going on. That went over well; they liked the idea of the bike because it’s high visibility and you can get around a lot faster than you can on foot. I see a lot of people, and people see me.”

Assigned to the second watch, which runs from the early afternoon to the evening, Hurley typically begins his workday by biking from the 22nd District headquarters at 1900 W. Monterey Ave. to 87th and Wallace streets to assist with Safe Passage, a program that provides oversight for children walking to and from school.

From there, Hurley said, he returns to Western Avenue and responds to calls throughout the neighborhood.
CPD 22nd District Commander Dan Godsel recalled responding to a call in North Beverly during a heavy snowstorm on New Year’s Eve 2013 when he noticed an eerie glow in the near distance.  “I couldn’t figure out what it was until I got a little closer,” Godsel said. “The snow was really coming down, and there was Joe on his bike.”

Hurley uses a set of shackles to lock his bike when he’s not using it, and activates the lights and siren, which were installed through a grant from Target that was secured by former 22nd District Commander Jim Gibson, when making traffic stops.

“I’m mainly catching people for cell phone use,” he said. “I’ll see them at the stoplight talking on their phone and pull up alongside them; I get the ‘no fair’ look all the time.”

Cruising along Western Avenue, Hurley checks the doors of businesses that are closed for the evening to make sure they are secure and checks in with the businesses that are still open.  Hurley said he avoids stopping at the bars—“It makes people nervous to see the police in there,” he said—with the exception of Keegan’s, 10618 S. Western Ave., where owner Bernard Callaghan is accompanied by his two dogs.

“I always keep a pocketful of cookies for the dogs,” Hurley said. “The dogs hear my radio and come running.”

Although the bike is not equipped with an odometer, Hurley said, he estimates he pedals about 15 to 20 miles a day. “But I do a lot of coasting,” he said.

To stay in shape, he joins several other officers every Saturday at the Beverly Arts Center for an early morning taekwondo/aerobics class taught by Cheryl Hurley, a third-degree black belt who is on the third watch in the 22nd District and is related to Joe by marriage to his nephew.

Although he works alone, Hurley said he receives a lot of support from his commander and colleagues in the 22nd District. Godsel is a triathlete and a huge proponent of the bike, Hurley said, and other patrol officers are always quick to respond to Hurley’s requests for backup.

“I have five or six cars there within 30 seconds,” he said. “Someone is always giving me the air horn, and I give it right back.”

Overall, Hurley said, he enjoys his job and shrugs off the notion that biking through blizzards and subzero wind chills deserves any special recognition.   “My job is no harder than the postal worker or the utility workers who are out there for hours breaking through frozen pavement,” Hurley said. “We live in Chicago; it just comes with the territory.”

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