John Garrido: Trading the streets for office

A Chicago police lieutenant, a lawyer, an alderman candidate and a husband, John Garrido has no plans to slow down.

Growing up in a police family in Chicago, Garrido wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and decided to start serving the people as a cop in 1991.

“It is always rewarding to be able to help the people of Chicago,” Garrido said. “It is also really rewarding to work with the depressed communities, and see the change.”

Garrido quickly rose through the ranks of the police department to his current position of tactical field lieutenant, where he works in a different district almost everyday.

“John is a great officer,” said Chicago Police Officer Russell Schultz. “He believes that he isn’t just collecting a paycheck, he is helping people.”

But the job hasn’t come without its hardships. “The worst things are crimes that involve children,” Garrido said. “They are just so innocent and helpless.”

Garrido recalls one crime where he went to have a crime scene and a father had murdered his 3-year-old daughter. “To see a child that small, it is just so sad,” Garrido said.

He recalled another case, which still gives Garrido chills to this day, where a sex offender videotaped himself sodomizing a 6-year-old boy and his 7-year-old sister. “Listening to the girl cry for help was the worst part,” Garrido recalled. “It was the most horrific sounds I have ever heard.”

But Garrido’s most sinking memory is being shot at, while trying to interrupt two people stealing a car. “I was over-powered by the two offenders,” Garrido remembers. “One was able to get my gun and fired two shots at me as I lay on the ground. It was the scariest moment of my life.”

Both shots missed Garrido and the man was sentenced to nine years in prison, but after seven years, he killed two other prisoners and committed suicide a short time later.

But, there was one thing at the Chicago Police Department that Garrido couldn’t get over, the politics.

Garrido, who also holds a law degree from the John Marshall Law School and currently practices law at Northwest Legal Services, LLP, with his law partner Kenneth Stoppa. Garrido’s law degree helps him see the shortcuts and the money waste in the police department, when they could be putting more officers on the street.

And with that view, Garrido decided in 2009 he wanted to run for public office. “I wanted to do something, I wanted to make a significant impact,” Garrido said.

“I met John 18 years ago on the force, when were assigned as partners one shift. We hit it off and became partners for years,” said Stoppa who is also a serving Chicago Police lieutenant. “It is a great idea that he is running. John is a breath of fresh air to the city.”

Garrido ran for Cook County Board President in 2009 as a Republican, but lost in the primary to Roger Keats. “Disappointment was my first feeling,” Garrido recalled. “I felt like I was letting down the supporters. I let down people who wanted to see something done.”

“I was sick of the nonsense at the police department, sick of the nonsense at the mayor’s office, and sick of what people had to deal with,” Garrido said. “People are craving for someone to go [into office] and do something.”

Garrido’s fondest memory of the campaign was of supporters who took drills and drilled into frozen ground, just to put lawn signs up, and just wanted someone new to do something in office.

“He had a great campaign,” said Frequency Television’s Chaos Control senior contributor Kyle McGraw, who debated on Garrido’s side at a few episodes. “He knew what he was doing. He knew the issues, he wanted to actually make change and that is what we need.”

Garrido didn’t throw in the towel and “I couldn’t let down my supporters,” Garrido said. He is now running for 45th Ward Alderman in the Northwest side.

“This race is different than the Cook Country board president,” Garrido said. “This race is very local and I get so much more interaction with the voters.”

“What matters to people at this level is much different that Cook County board president,” Garrido said. “It is up close and personal.”

Garrido’s biggest stance is not doing “more with less.” “You can’t cut things like the police department. You have to keep public safety a priority,” said Garrido. “So much money is being mismanaged, and we need to fix that.”

“John is focused, articulate, researches the hell out of everything,” said Garrdio’s campaign media consultant Tobi Williams. “Most importantly he has answers and a plan.”

“I want voters to look at me for who I am,” Garrido said.