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The Ring
~Blake Smith,DEA, Former 11th District CPD

Our brother-in-blue, Michael, was promoted from the Chicago Police Department to the streets of Heaven during the early morning hours of Sunday, August 8, 2004. The next few days would bring immeasurable heartbreak and infinite unanswered questions.

On Monday morning, however, word spread quickly amongst Michael’s brothers-in-blue that Michael’s wife, Guin, could not find Michael’s wedding band. It was critical that this ring be located, because its importance was paramount in Michael and Guin’s life together.

Michael and Guin’s lives, similar to most of ours, had brought with it many ups and downs. When Michael and Guin found each other, however, everything suddenly made sense. They knew from the very moment they met that they were meant to be together. This significance was not lost on Michael’s brothers-in-blue. They knew how deeply Michael and Guin cared for each other, and that Michael wore his wedding ring at work with great pride.

Word spread quickly throughout the ranks of the Chicago Police Department that Guin could not find Michael’s wedding band. Needless to say, there was no shortage of volunteers to aid in the search.

Monday, August 9, 2004, was a typical smoldering August day in Chicago, IL. The vacant lot at Jackson and Sacramento on Chicago’s gang-ridden West Side, however, was filled to capacity with Michael’s brothers, anxious to help Guin in any way that they could. Finding this ring now meant everything to them, a way to help ease the overwhelming pain of losing a brother.

The sun was shining brilliantly that day, melting everything it touched. Michael’s brothers-in-blue, however, were on a mission - find Michael’s ring.

Chicago coppers came in droves. That lot was filled with Michael’s brothers-in-blue from the 11th District - fist, second, and third watches - as well as the entire 11th District Tactical Team. No single blade of grass went unturned as coppers dropped to their knees and searched that vacant lot inch-by-inch. The fact that the vacant lot was littered with garbage, broken glass, empty narcotics packaging, and syringes was not going to slow them down.

The Chicago Fire Department even showed up with heavy equipment to remove entire bushes from the ground so that Michael’s brothers-in-blue could more easily search the ground beneath.

The Chicago Police Department even assigned its Crime Lab to the scene. The Crime Lab was able to utilize equipment such as metal detectors capable of locating items several inches underground.

When initial efforts to locate Michael’s ring failed, the Chicago Police Department assigned personnel to that vacant lot. It was their assignment to take Michael’s ring home to Guin.

The search continued, Chicago coppers on their hands and knees, feverishly searching every square inch of that overgrown and long-neglected vacant lot, as well as the surrounding streets and sewers. No resource was left untapped in the effort to find Michael’s ring.

Then the call came... Michael’s ring was found!!!

Everyone in that vacant lot stood up with a great sense of relief, but who found the ring? Was it under a shard of broken glass? Was it hidden beneath an undisturbed tuft of grass?

Guin found the ring in the black duffle bag Micheal carried with him while on duty. Those dedicated brothers-in-blue, sweating profusely under the hot summer sun, could not have been happier. A brief, but fleeting, moment of happiness in a time of great tragedy. Those coppers found great solace in the fact that something that was so important to Michael and Guin had been found. This fleeting moment of satisfaction meant everything to those coppers, who in a few short days were going to bury their brother.

Rest in peace, Michael. We love you.