Veteran Chicago Police Officer Pens New Book
By RAY HANANIA
Southwest News-Herald Newspaper Friday, November 29, 2013
Greg Zito began his career as a military police officer in Germany and worked at the Chicago Transit Authority Police before he joined the Chicago Police Department in the 1960s. He worked three years as a patrol officer and was promoted to detective working with the Gang Crimes Unit.
He was involved in six shootouts, armed robberies and fatally shot one. He has responded to two emergency calls to assist police who were in trouble.
These and other stories are shared in a book he has written called “History of Street Cops: Gangs, Drugs, and Guns in the City of Chicago and the Cabrini Green Snipers.”
Zito was assigned to the once tough Cabrini Green public housing projects in the 1970s and 1980s, battling the toughest street gangs like the Cobra Stones and the El Rukns which had more than 600 members. It was a small army of criminals that had taken over an area that only years before had been the neighborhood where his family had raised him and his grandparents lived.
“The first two weeks we were in the middle of two gang wars arresting over fifty gang members and recovering or confiscating over 50 weapons,” Zito wrote about his assignment with his partner Officer Bill Mokstad
“We informed our Commanding Officer it was just to much for us. Some (police) wagon officers from the 018th District would not come into the Cabrini Green Housing areas to pick up our prisoners. They wanted us to drive them to Chicago and Larrabee. Some wagon men did come to our aid and also did more; they blocked the snipers fire with the squad wagons and loaded our prisoners.”
Zito’s Commanding Officers from the Gang Unit assigned six more Gang Specialists to assist including officers Bill Connor, Jack Dugan, Mike Hurley, Joe Juhas, Joe Fallen and Joe Sparks.
“Together, with these brave officers, we made hundreds arrests. The first six months we confiscated over 167 weapons. During the four years we confiscated or recovered over 660 weapons from the Gangs at Cabrini Green. No Officer or Gang Specialists was shot or wounded, we had been pinned down by sniper fire many times,” he remembered.
In one of the many stories in the fascinating 205 page book, Zito recalls when former Mayor Jane M. Byrne, one of the seven Chicago mayors I covered as a City Hall reporter, had moved into Cabrini Green and had called him to check out a vehicle they had spotted from their apartment window. Byrne moved in there to help bring attention to Crabini Green’s crime and stayed there for about four weeks, coming and going and spending some nights there.
During the investigations there, Zito discovered that a member of the Chicago Police Department had been bringing guns and weapons to Cabrini Green and selling them to the street gangs.
The book is packed with stories about fighting crime in Chicago, written firsthand from the perspective of a Chicago Cop who rolled up his sleeves and was on the front lines of Chicago’s war on crime.
Zito’s book “History of Street Cops” is available in hardcover and softcover on Amazon.com. I hope you buy it.
The vast majority of our police are hardworking men and women who risk their lives everyday to protect us. Whether it is in Chicago or in the suburbs. It seems like nothing until one of them gets shot.
Let’s not take them for granted and let’s show them support.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and former Chicago City Hall reporter. You may reach him at http://www.TheMediaOasis.com and follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/RayHanania.)
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"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
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