Stanley: Retiring officer remembers ‘Super Cops’
By BRIAN STANLEY Life of Brianemail@example.com February 2, 2013 6:30PM
Francis "Rudy" Ruettiger (right) poses with John Nosal (left) and David Sova at their recent retirement from the Joliet Police Department. Ruettiger later reflected on an incident early in his career involving a cape. | submitted photo
Updated: March 4, 2013 6:08AM
At every cop retirement I’ve covered, someone always jokes they can’t tell the best stories because the statute of limitations hasn’t expired.
Francis Ruettiger’s might be the first time I’ve had concerns it was true.
But “Rudy” told everyone that while his mouth got him in trouble on his first day as a Joliet police officer he also had no regrets over a 28-year career.
Hopefully that includes stopping on his way out the door to relate a few more of his adventures to the press. Either way it’s nowhere near the most impulsive thing he did.
While his former partner remembered a few details differently in a separate interview, I believe Ruettiger and John Panizzo probably could agree on the official version of what happened over a cup of coffee.
One night in the late 1980s, Ruettiger and Panizzo brought a suspect to Silver Cross Hospital and stuck around for a cup of coffee.
Panizzo remembers the two young officers started goofing around after they spotted a box of aprons for cafeteria workers.
“One of the ER nurses was amused we had them on. She flipped them around to be capes and took a marker to write ‘S.C.’ for ‘Super Cop’ on the back,” Panizzo said.
The costumed constables went to continue their own amusement by making a traffic stop when a call came over the radio. A man was threatening his wife with an ax in a house near Fifth Avenue and Chicago Street.
Both Ruettiger and Panizzo used the word “flying” to describe the speed of their squad car in getting there. The amount of dust that flew up as they pulled into the gravel driveway and the waiting sergeant also stand out for both men after a quarter-century.
“Just go with me on this,” Rudy told his partner.
And so the “Super Cops” leaped from their squad car and ran to the house with their arms outstretched like Superman and making “flying noises.”
Panizzo remembers going through the door and finding a peaceful couple cooking dinner in their kitchen. It appeared the report of domestic violence was unfounded.
So the officers kept ‘flying’ through the house, soaring over the couches and finally, landing on the living room coffee table, Ruettiger said.
“There was no threat. So when we stopped, we acted very ‘Joe Friday,’ (asking), ‘What’s the problem here,’ ” Panizzo said.
The couple could’ve been outraged, confused or worried they needed to go to the hospital for a pyschiatric evaluation.
With their flight finished outside, “Rudy” and Panizzo began laughing until they cried.
Both Ruettiger and Panizzo recall Sgt. Jim Stewart said he “should write them up, but nobody would believe me,” adding he wanted to avoid going to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
The “Super Cops” completed a successful shift and went home, though Panizzo kept waking up to laugh.
“That was pretty much the end of our riding together,” he remembered.