Community remembers beloved CPD commander

Purple bunting hangs above the district of the CPD commander who was shot and killed in the line of duty on Tuesday.

The 18th District is where Paul Bauer reported for duty since he was promoted in 2016.

A memorial that began with flowers Tuesday has now grown to include all kinds of well wishes for the family and for fellow officers struggling to deal with his loss, and still do their jobs.

But beyond a police commander, he was a loyal friend, devout catholic and dedicated family man.
His neighbors in Bridgeport are devastated at the loss. They have been struggling to come to terms with his death.

“He was actually one of the really good ones,” said January Overton.

Overton owns the Jackalope Coffee and Tea House where Paul Bauer was a regular. 

“We have a little family here, like a little community and when something like this happens, we all feel it,” she said.

Bauer often brought along his 13-year-old daughter, Grace, who would always stop to pet Molly, Jeff Nolan’s little dog.

“Definitely a daddy's girl. My heart goes out to that little girl…can't even imagine,” Nolan said.

City crews were busy Wednesday clearing snow from outside the Nativity of our Lord church, getting ready for the commander's wake and funeral.

Father Joseph Altman says Bauer was at church every Sunday.

“He sort of gave kindness as a sign of who he was…kind, caring, loving man. He had a tough job so he had to be tough in many ways, but his heart was a good heart,” said Father Joseph Altman.

A few blocks away, blue ribbons line the Bridgeport street where Bauer lived with his wife, Erin, and daughter, Grace.

But the suffering extends beyond here.

“We are certainly as a parish but really you think it's the whole city, it's beyond, this is touching all of our lives,” Altman said.

When a Chicago police officer is killed or badly injured in Chicago, their families are not alone.

There are several organizations dedicated to helping survivors, starting with funeral costs, all the way through educating their children.

"We mourn together unfortunately very well because we have plenty of practice,” said Dan Brandt.

Chicago police chaplain Father Dan Brandt is a board member of the Police Memorial Foundation, a non-profit that provides financial support for the families of officers injured and killed on the job.

Commander Paul Bauer was an active supporter and fundraiser for the foundation.

"They've given out nine million dollars since their inception ten years ago to families of heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Who do what police do. They run towards the gunfire when everyone with common sense is running the other way,” Brandt said.

The memorial foundation provides financial assistance starting with the officer's funeral and pays for their children's education all the way through high school.

"Commander Bauer was a friend of mine,” said Joe Ahern.

Ahern runs the 100 Club of Chicago, which raises money for the families of both police and firefighters.

Ahern says he got to know Bauer when he was commander of the Chicago police mounted patrol unit.

The 100 Club pays for all the college expenses of the children of fallen police and firefighters. 

"We have 21 sons and daughters in college right now. They're all sons and daughters of policemen and firemen who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and then we have 64 more kids who will come of age,” Ahern said.

But it's not just financial assistance the families of fallen officers need, but emotional support as well. That's where the Gold Star Society comes in, led by Chicago cop Kurt Kaner, whose father was shot to death on duty when Kaner was just 5 years old.

"There's really nothing that you can say other than we're here for you. and we understand what you're going through,” Kaner said.

All of those organizations depend on donations to help the families of fallen police.

Once again - the visitation for commander Gary Bauer will be Friday. His funeral is planned for Saturday.

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