Hero Cop Honored By Emerald Society
as the 1997 Police Officer of the Year
Denis Walsh and Three Other Officers Nail a Murderer
Taking back the streets from an army of dope pushers, rapists,
gangbangers, and armed-to-the-teeth gunmen means that from time to time a bad man is going
On a steamy afternoon in August of 1996, Archie Meyers pumped 13 shots into his estranged
girlfriend in front of 2,000 people enjoying a street festival in Douglas Park on the West
Violence is endemic in these gang-ravaged neighborhoods. The sound
of sporadic gunfire is accepted with weary resignation by residents who grop for answers -
and common ground with the church, community leaders, and the police - to break the
stranglehold of crime and drugs.
Amid the wreckage of the inner cities sometimes there are victories
both great and small.
Archie Meyers paid for his crime - big time. Denis Walsh, a highly decorated Chicago
Police Detective from Area 4 Violent Crimes, assisted by Sergeant Fernando Garcia and
Officer Danny Vargas from the 10th District and Officer Michael Hammond from Eleven,
cornered the gunman inside a home on Spalding Avenue after he took eight family members
hostage in a futile attempt to shake off the Chicago Police officers who had chased him
through the streets of this West Side neighborhood.
After failing to hijack a passing automobile, Meyers grabbed an eight-year-old girl at gun
point outside the residence on Spalding, then forced his way inside the building before
Walsh and his fellow officers arrived on the scene.
"Mike Hammond and I kicked in the door of the house," Walsh remembers. "We
found eight family members lying on the floor. Meyers fired two shots at us, and then
retreated into the back bedroom."
The four officers cornered Meyers in what amounted to a game of kill or be killed. In this
instance, 32 police bullets tore through Meyers - ending a wasted life.
This was the first time, but not the last time Detective Walsh has been involved in a
shooting incident. He is not afraid of the inherent danger of working a crime ridden
district where Walsh and fellow members of the Violent Crimes unit investigated 210
homicides last year. "I prefer to work in places like that. I like the action,"
Detective Walsh, a Northwest Sider who graduated from Lane Tech High School, has received
four Department Commendations, a Life Saving Award, and a Department Commendation from the
Minneapolis, Minnesota P.D., since coming on the job June 16, 1986. He added another
trophy to his growing list of honors recently, by being named the Emerald Society Police
Officer of the Year for 1997 for his part in hunting down Archie Meyers.
Walsh, a member of the Emerald Society of Illinois for the past 10 years, comes from one
of the most famous police families in the city. His dad, John J. Walsh commanded the 13th
District for 13 years and was a Deputy Chief at Area 6 before retiring in 1992 after
logging 36 years on the job. His wife Kathleen is raising four children while presently on
leave from the Chicago Police Department's 24th District. Denis' brother Michael is a
sergeant in Eleven. His father-in-law Russell Weingart is assigned to the 20th District.
That's quite a police legacy for one family, but Denis says that the inspiration to become
a law enforcement officer was his own. "Dad did not adamantly encourage it, but when
you come from this kind of background it makes sense," he said.
His goals in life are simple, but one frequently voiced by thousands of Chicago Police
officers who have worked the streets for 10 or more years. "Getting my police pension
and putting my kids through college - that's all that I really hope to accomplish from all
Denis Walsh is way too humble when he talks about himself. But he has achieved far more
than what he is willing to give himself credit for, and will likely continue to do so if
his career up to this point is any indication.