Arresting Tales

R.I.P. Dr. David Struckhoff

In January 1988 I had a bad weekend. 

We had just bought our first house, near Irving Park Rd and Kimball, a few months earlier.  Thursday afternoon I got called in by my boss.  He informed me that the photo studio I worked for was closing, handed me my check and told me I didn't need to come in on Friday.  That Sunday my bride and I visited my parents, and when we got home Sunday evening we found that our house had been burglarized.  The officers who came and took the report were sympathetic; a few hours later when the evidence technician showed up he explained what he was doing as he processed for latent prints.  By that point I was well into my cups as I contemplated my new joblessness and status as a crime victim.  In a bourbon-soaked moment of revelation I thought, hey, I should become a cop, and chase down assholes who break into other people's homes.  Yeah, that's the ticket...

That thought just sat there for a couple months while I looked for work as a photographer or photographer's assistant.  I finally landed a job at Loyola University as a campus security officer, working at the campus in Rogers Park.  I liked the job, and got a kick out of dealing with the freaks, drunks and crazy people who stumbled up Winthrop and Kenmore and wandered onto campus.  I started thinking more seriously about being a cop.  My younger brother, a Loyola student, told me I should take a criminal justice class.  (Ironic note:  my brother, who wanted to be in law enforcement and received undergraduate and graduate degrees in criminal justice, got out of the field years ago and is now a mortgage salesman.  I decided to become a cop almost on a whim, got lucky on the first exam I took, and have been on the job more than 20 years now.)

I took my brother's advice and signed up for the introduction to criminal justice class, and that's how I met Dr. David Struckhoff.

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Dr. David Struckhoff died on September 16, after a long battle with cancer.  Dr. Struckhoff was a wonderful man, a long-time professor at Loyola University and at several other institutions.  Taking his class and meeting him was a formative experience in my life.  Seriously, I can't begin to tell you  what an encouraging and engaging instructor, and inspiring human being he was.  Taking his class was the final push I needed to decide to become a cop.

Early in his career Doc Struckhoff worked as a behavioral diagnostic specialist in the Illinois Department of Corrections, and he was always willing to share amusing anecdotes about characters like Richard Speck. In addition to being a professor, he also authored The American Sheriff, a history of the role of the office of sheriff in American politics and law enforcement.

Doc Struckhoff continued to be a friend and mentor to a great many of his former students, and he will be missed. 

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4 Comments

juanyen said:

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My condolences on the loss of your mentor.

Once again, our paths nearly crossed in the past: in 1988, I was working at the Leona's down the street from Loyola and dating the daughter of a Loyola professor who lived right near campus.

Skylers Dad said:

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Condolences from me as well Joe. I think the world is a better place from your decision to become a police officer.

theotherkind said:

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Thanks for writing this blog, Joe.

kidrach said:

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Joe - I am so glad my Dad inspired you. His greatest passion was teaching...and he was inspired by those students who took something away. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. R

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