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A whole city wishes an injured police officer well

For Chicago police, the odds of being shot on the job are getting worse. So far this year, 14 officers have been shot at.

A Chicago police officer was critically wounded on Sept. 21 when he and other officers went to arrest a suspect in a Fulton River District shooting.
Chicago police on a street in West Englewood, where an officer was critically wounded on Sept. 21.
Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun-Times

It’s good news that the Chicago police officer who was shot and horribly wounded over the weekend is expected to make a full recovery.

The 41-year-old officer is recuperating from a second surgery since being critically injured in a gun battle between the police and 45-year-old Michael Blackman on Saturday, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told us.

We’re sure pulling for the officer, a father of two whom Guglielmi described as “very well-liked and energetic.” We look forward to him returning home soon from Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

The officer’s shooting is yet another reminder, if anybody needs one, that the Chicago police put their lives on the line for us every day.

It’s part of the job, remarkably. They know it going in.

And we thank them.

First Deputy Supt. Anthony Riccio described Blackman, charged Monday with two shootings, as an “engine of violence.” That sounds about right, if the accusations against him prove to be true.

It started last week, the police say, when Blackman, unprovoked, allegedly shot a young woman who was walking down the street in the Fulton River District. On Saturday, when police went to West Englewood to arrest him, the former delivery driver allegedly began shooting at the officers. He reportedly hit the one officer in the groin and leg.

For Chicago police, the odds of being shot are getting worse. So far this year, 14 officers have been shot at, Guglielmi said. That number compares with 15 officers who were shot at by this time last year; 10 officers in 2017; nine in 2016; and five in 2015.

Most of the time, the officers have had the good fortune to escape being hit. But the risk of injury or death is always there, with every traffic stop and attempted arrest.

“It’s definitely something we grapple with,” Guglielmi said.

Officers in the Fugitive Apprehension Unit, like the 41-year-old officer, run a particularly high risk of being shot because of the nature of their duties: Tracking down and arresting the most dangerous suspects, including those sought by other jurisdictions.

To qualify for the unit, candidates undergo a security clearance and are deputized as U.S. marshals.

“It speaks to the caliber of officer he is, that he’s in this unit,” Guglielmi said.

Because the officer was the victim of a crime, the police for now are withholding his name.

We don’t know his name.

But we tell him this: A whole city wishes him well.

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