Officer remembered for commitment to others

July 23, 2010 9:40:26 PM PDT
A service for Officer Michael Bailey was held Friday, the second of two officers' funerals to take place in slightly more than one week.

Officer Bailey was shot to death outside his home in Chicago's Park Manor neighborhood. However, police say, he was killed in the line of duty because he was identifiable as an officer when he was shot.

A full-honors funeral was taking place at St. Sabina church on Chicago's South Side.

"If you had a problem, he had a problem," said Bailey's sister, Valerie Ewing. "If the community had an issue, he had an issue."

Bailey is survived by five children and 14 grandchildren.

Hundreds of mourners, including family members and friends, also gathered to pay their respects. Also attending the service were several Chicago area leaders, including police Supt. Jody Weis, Mayor Richard Daley, and Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Daley and Weis were among those who spoke at the funeral. Both men vowed to catch the people who killed Bailey.

There has been an 18 percent increase in assaults on police in recent years. Chicago police are shell-shocked over the recent attacks on officers, and some are frustrated over shortages in manpower.

"They should let us do our job," said Officer Maurice Burkes. "They need to take the handcuffs off us and let us do our job."

Another officer, Arthur Davis, said that the brazenness of criminals recently in assaults on officers has made him more careful.

"It just steps your game up a little bit," said Davis. "You have to be a little more cautious."

Robert Grant, the head of the FBI in Chicago, said that drugs are involved in the situation.

"The problem we have is much more complex than simply law enforcement," said Grant.

Grant said that users of illegal drugs are adding to the violence in the city.

"They're contributing to this problem because they are putting the money in the hands of the gang bangers who are fighting over the distribution rights of those drugs," said Robert Grant, the head of the FBI in Chicago.

Grant confirmed that such activity can lead eventually to officers' deaths.

Before the funeral began at approximately 10 a.m. Friday, police held participated in a procession to honor Officer Bailey. Bagpipes and a salute paid tribute to the slain officer at approximately 9:45 a.m. as the casket holding Bailey's body arrived at St. Sabina.

Bailey's friends, family members and fellow Chicago police officers say they remember him as a dedicated officer. They also say he was a quiet , committed family man and that he will be remembered for everything he did for other people in his life.

"There's no love like the love of a brother," said Bailey's sister, Patrice Taylor. "It can never be replaced."

Early Sunday morning, Bailey had just finished a shift guarding Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's home. He was in front of his own home, wiping down the car he had just bought for himself as an early retirement present, when he was shot.

Bailey was planning to take on a road trip with his brother, Solomon.

"We're going to go swimming together and we're gonna take a road trip on my birthday to New Orleans together," said Solomon Bailey at the funeral. "And I said, 'Are we going to take your car?' -- 'Yeah!'"

Outside the church were more tributes to Bailey. A U.S. flag and the Chicago flag were handed by Weis and Daley to Bailey's widow, followed by a 21-gun salute and the traditional bagpipes.

Although many say Officer Bailey did not want to retire from the police department, he was weeks away from retirement because of a law requiring police officers to retire at age 63.

Bailey's killer or killers have not been arrested, and Weis did not comment on the investigation after the funeral. There is a $70,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Bailey's killers.

Friends and colleagues speaking with ABC7 Chicago Friday said Bailey was a caring and focused officer.

"Mike was definitely a family man. He wasn't just a family man to his family. He was a family man to the police department itself," said friend Officer Maurice Burks. "

"He was always smiling, always laughing. He always had a joke for everyone. He was just a nice guy. I've been on 13 years. He had 20-some years on. So, as the older guys, you always look to them for advice or just somebody cheer you up when things get down," said Officer Arthur Davis of the 21st District.

In his younger years, Bailey was enlisted in the Air Force.

Bailey was a husband and father of five. He also is survived by 14 grandchildren.

At Thursday's wake for Officer Bailey, mourners said they had been to similar ceremonies way too often lately. He is the third Chicago police officer to be murdered in the last few months. The first recent case involved Officer Thomas Wortham, gunned down in front of his parents' home in Chicago's Chatham neighborhood.

"I would prefer not to go to more funerals than birthday parties," relative Sandra Wortham said. "It's outrageous. It's absolutely ridiculous."

The funeral doubled as both a celebration of Bailey's life and service and a call to action from city officials for communities to come forward and turn in criminals.

"Be not afraid to come forward to tell his wife, to tell his pastor, or tell a police officer one little bit of information," said Mayor Daley.

Three Chicago police officers have been killed in the past two months.

"There's a reward of $70,000, $70,000, for the information that will lead to the arrest of this individual. We've got to get them off the streets. We will not waver from this," Chicago police Supt. Jody Weis said Thursday.

A number of religious leaders attended the wake, including Fr. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina.

"It is unacceptable that killers can shoot in our communities and still go back home and sit at home and eat McDonald's like nothing has happened," Pfleger said. "Turn them in."


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