CHICAGO - Wednesday will mark one year since Commander Paul Bauer was gunned down at the Thompson Center, and as tributes pour in, we want to introduce you to the officers who rode with Bauer in the police department's Mounted Patrol Unit.
Those officers also have a special honor planned for their fallen friend.
“There's not a thing that I do that I don't think about Paul,” said Commanding Officer Paul Mack. “He was everything that you could want in a partner. He took care of me like I was his kid brother.”
For seven years, Mack patrolled alongside his friend and partner, Paul Bauer.
“I know that every day Paul was here, because I worked with him, that he absolutely cherished it and loved it,” Mack said.
Bauer was killed while off-duty at the Thompson Center on February 13, 2018.
“It's hard for us, sometimes we want to, we want to forget. We want to pretend it didn't happen, but it did,” Mack said.
Now, the tight-knit team is hoping to give their fallen friend and commander a special honor by naming a horse after him.
And it turns out, the naming process was Bauer’s original idea.
“It was right after Officer John Knight was murdered. Paul Bauer, the then-commander of the unit, Chuck Oliver, decided they wanted to do something in honor of our fallen officers,” Mack said.
The idea took off. Every horse in the unit is now named for a fallen officer.
“I wasn't sure how families really felt about until I had a family member tell me that they were honored that their husband was still on the street working with us,” Mack said.
“Being the head trainer, I did work directly under Paul,” said Mike Clisham.
But a horse for Bauer has an even deeper meaning.
Clisham says the unit won't say which horse they plan to name for Bauer, just yet.
“It's an honor to be able to do it. I want it to be the best horse we have. I want it to be the strongest, and I want it to represent him, for what Paul was. And to carry on his memory,” Clisham said. “He's ours. He's ours. And we want to make sure that it's the right horse for him.”
“I hope to be able to name a horse for him soon,” Mack said.
When it does happen, Mack wants to have a formal ceremony, including the horse and the fallen officer's family.
“To tell you what it means? I don't think I could express it. Because everybody here has been touched by him,” Mack said. “He had a huge impact on me.”
“It's going to mean the world to a lot of us, it really is,” Mack added.
A memorial service to honor Commander Bauer is being held Wednesday at noon at the Thompson Center.
The Mounted Patrol Unit also plans to name a horse in honor of Officer Thor Soderberg, who was killed in 2010.