Chicago Police Chief Fred Waller, fourth-in-command, retiring this month

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Another high-ranking Chicago police officer is about to hang up his badge.

After more than 30 years on the job, Chief Fred Waller, who heads up the Operations Bureau and is the fourth-in-command, is getting ready to retire Aug. 15.

Waller has seen a lot in his 34 years, and he said it's been a badge of honor to serve the city, where he was born and raised.

"This has been my life for so many years, and so it's a bitter, it seems like it's a bittersweet ending," Waller said.

He got his start back in 1986 and has been called a mentor to many younger officers. His oldest son is now one of them.

"I always tell these young officers, and I try to encourage them, 'you can do the police work in this environment. You can still remain professional in this environment, even though you're being disrespected on a daily basis,'" Waller said.

This environment is one rife with distrust of police, including demonstrations that have led to attacks on officers and complaints about how officers have responded.

"I would never say that the police department is perfect. You have an agency over 12,000, 13,000. There are going to be some people who have a different mindset, who have to sometimes be reeled in through discipline," Waller said.

His biggest frustrations, though, are repeat gun offenders who are not held accountable, and when violence hits home.

Cmdr. Paul Bauer's murder was a heartbreaking wake-up call, Waller said.

"I always say, not on my watch, not on my watch was I going to have an officer struck down that way, and then you realize it's not in your control," Waller said.

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He also lost a dear friend when Deputy Chief Dion Boyd died by suicide recently. The two men talked every other day, and Waller said he had no idea anything was wrong.

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Community Organizer William Calloway, who has not been shy about criticizing police at times, calls Waller an exceptional officer who will be missed.

"Highly respected in the community, especially in the Black community, and it's very rare for us to find an officer that we can praise and highlight like Chief Waller," Calloway said.

As for this summer's sharp rise in shootings and murders, Waller blames that largely on the lack of accountability for people with guns.

"It's not that more people have weapons, more people are bringing the weapons out and carrying the weapons, Waller said.

Waller said he doesn't have any immediate plans for retirement, but he hopes to be able to continue mentoring young officers and young men in the community.
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