Michael Gordon was known as a super cop to the lucky people who got the chance to know him.
Born into a police-oriented family, Gordon was considered a rising star in the Chicago Police Department. But the bright future of the 30-year-old came to an end on the morning of Aug. 8, 2004.
While conducting normal beat operations at 5:50 a.m., the squad car he was driving was struck by a vehicle operated by an intoxicated driver at the intersection of Jackson Blvd. and Sacramento Ave. in Chicago.
Gordon, a native of Riverside, died hours later at Stroger Hospital of Cook County.
“Mike’s dream was to be a Chicago police officer,” said Thomas Weitzel, who is the assistant chief for the Riverside Police Department. “He took the first job offer he received, and lucky for us it was here. But then his dream came true, and he was hired by the Chicago Police Department.”
Gordon was one of 158 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2004, and will be honored Saturday at the 9th Annual Riverside Law Enforcement Memorial Service.
The event, which will feature more than 30 local police departments, will take place at Guthrie Park in downtown Riverside and is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.
“May is National Police Memorial Month,” Weitzel said. “All citizens are invited to attend to pay tribute to those who have been killed in the line of duty.”
Riverside Police Chief Eugene Karczewski will present the Officer of the Year Award posthumously to Gordon, while Joe Rejsek, an adult advisor for Riverside Explorer Post 390, will receive the Law Enforcement Service Award.
Gordon will become the first officer not on the Riverside force to receive the award.
“Mike’s dad [Robert Gordon] was my supervisor when I started in 1984,” Weitzel said. “I’ll never forget when I got the call telling me he was killed.
“I was attending the FBI National Academy in Virginia. It was around 10 a.m., and I was headed to a Baltimore Orioles game. When I heard it, I couldn’t believe it.
“I turned around, drove back to the base and took a leave of absence. I drove 12 hours straight to get back here in time for the wake and funeral.”
Gordon’s partner for that night, John Dalcason, also was ejected from the vehicle. Dalcason, however, was able to survive after being transported to Mount Sinai Hospital.
Dalcason was working in place of Gordon’s regular partner, Mario Mendoza, who had the night off.
“I’ve thought about that night numerous times,” Mendoza said. “The next day, we would have been together working. It was tough, because I felt bad for [John], too. I should have been in the car.”
The driver of the other vehicle, Luis Calle, died later during surgery from injuries sustained in the collision. Test results showed Calle, who was driving a 1994 Nissan four-door, had a blood alcohol level of .177?”more than twice the legal limit in Illinois.
“Mike worked hard every night for eight hours straight,” Mendoza said. “The week before he died, we had made some big arrests. We worked so well together and complemented one another.”
At the time of his death, Gordon was finishing his second year with the Chicago Police Department.
Previously, he spent two years with the Riverside Police Department. Gordon received numerous awards, unit citation awards and letters of commendation.
Before that, he was a military police officer for the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, where he enlisted right out of high school.
He was survived by his wife, four children and parents.
Gordon’s father, Robert, is a retired assistant chief of the Riverside Police Department, and one his brothers is a police officer with the Broadview Police Department. Gordon also has two cousins serving with the Chicago Police Department.
“Suburban law enforcement might not have the same crime volume as Chicago, but we still have the same job to do,” Weitzel said. “Our job is to serve and protect the community. Officers here wear a lot of hats, and work hard to keep everyone safe.”