By Bud Harton
After coming home from Vietnam, I became a patrol officer in a small department in the south suburbs of Chicago. Although having spent almost three years in heavy combat, I was way too immature to be a cop but I did some good things, screwed up a couple of others and had some moments that still stay with me more than 40 years later . . .
This was long before modern telecommunications. When I started, my department was still getting used to radios in squad cars and every senior officer could remember when patrol officers received their calls by seeing a flashing red light on the village water tower which indicated they should call in to the department from a pay phone.
When I was hired, they had just received their first “walkie-talkies” which were cumbersome bricks made by Motorola. They were a handful and their extendable antennas were always getting broken when officers forgot to push them down into the radio before closing a door, or worse yet, by a combative prisoner.
Our radio frequency was shared by 35 different south suburban police departments and at one time there could be as many as 300 police units on duty, all supported by up to 35 different dispatching agencies. The radio never stopped talking. You could tone down some of the reception by dialing down the squelch, but when you transmitted, more often than not, you were “walked on” by someone else transmitting at the same time. You learned to listen for your dispatcher’s voice to alert you to a potential call for you or your shift partners.
While always chaotic, there were some positive aspects because when coordinating a call between departments, such as an extra-jurisdictional pursuit or an “officer needs help” response, responding units from different departments could talk to each other and coordinate their actions.
On frequent occasions, the need would arise to shut everyone up so a single station or an officer could put out emergency information. All an officer had to do was call his dispatcher and identify himself and ask for a clear channel for an emergency. His dispatcher, utilizing a much more powerful base station radio, would then announce, “All units and stations, standby for an emergency, unit with the emergency go ahead.” When that happened there was instant quiet over the entire network and every cop on duty when be listening and sometimes, ready to respond.
But it also caused some horrendous problems.
So it was on October 1, 1972. I was on the afternoon shift, 3pm to 11pm and it was towards the end of the shift. It was a late fall Sunday evening, just cool enough for a light jacket, but still warm enough that I could cruise my patrol area with my front windows down. I kept them open so I could hear outside the car and late on a Sunday evening you could hear things for quite a ways.
In particular, I was listening for the sudden accelerating roar of two cars street racing. This was the end of the muscle car era and I was driving a Ford Police Interceptor with a 428 engine and a quad (four barreled) carburetor. I lived for pursuits because I was still young and stupid.
The drone of the radio continued on in the background and I heard a Hillside officer, some thirty miles north of me, announce a traffic stop of a suspicious car. His dispatcher acknowledged his car and I heard him say, “The westbound ramp of the Ike (Eisenhower expressway) L-lincoln, L-lincoln 5” and then he got walked on by another station or car. Hillside PD came back and asked the car to repeat but there was no answer.
I just paid the slightest attention to it as I continue to listen for drag racers. Then Hillside PD came on again and announced an emergency, “All stations and units in the vicinity, the Swedish Manor restaurant on Roosevelt Road was just held up by three offenders who fled the scene in an unidentified vehicle.” The Swedish Manor was on Roosevelt at Mannheim, and Mannheim has a westbound on ramp for the Eisenhower Expressway.
Then shortly after, a second Hillside unit, dispatched to back up the unit on a traffic stop up reported that he had found the first unit on the ramp, driver’s door open and the emergency lights and spotlight still on. But the Officer was missing.
The missing officer was Anthony “Tony” Raymond and he had been a police officer for just two years. The three offenders from the armed robbery had indeed been in the car that Officer Raymond had stopped and they had managed to overpower him and take him hostage. They drove to one of the offenders’ homes where they used a guitar string to strangle him and then stabbed him four times in the back before stuffing him in a 55 gallon barrel and burying him in a Wisconsin farm owned by a relative of one of the offenders. When his body was found, eleven months later, his hands were still cuffed behind his back.
Two of the three were apprehended. The third was killed in a separate armed robbery in Indiana in 1973. Both the surviving criminals were sentenced to multiple consecutive life terms. One died in prison in 2009 and the other still survives, continuing to appeal for parole every year.
I spent weeks of off duty time along with hundreds of other officer volunteers trying to find Officer Raymond. To say his loss, even though I never met him, affected my entire life should be quite obvious.
Officer Anthony Charles Raymond, Hillside (Illinois) Police Department, husband and father, End of Watch October 1, 1972, rest in peace.