March 16, 2005 by

Jack Muller

7 comments

Categories: Law, Writers/Editors

Jack Muller, a retired Chicago police officer who was once known for his uncompromising law-and-order attitude, died on March 11 of kidney failure. He was 81.

Born to Hungarian and Polish immigrants, Muller played football and studied law at the University of Michigan. He dropped out of school to enlist in the U.S. Navy and spent World War II serving in the Pacific theatre aboard the USS Sheldrake as a minesweeping specialist.

Upon his return to the states, Muller joined the Chicago Police Department. As a rookie cop, he was shot in the head during a shootout. The bullet deflected off the police shield on his hat and lodged in his skull, where it remained for the rest of his life.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Muller developed a reputation for his ticketing practices. He patrolled Rush Street on a three-wheel motorcycle and strictly enforced all traffic laws. Fame, fortune and status didn’t matter. If a citizen broke the law, Muller was there to write him up.

“He wrote lots of tickets,” his son Kurt Muller said.
The newspapers loved to write about the honest cop, particularly when he issued tickets to Mayor Richard J. Daley, Cubs broadcaster Jack Brickhouse and mobsters Tony Accardo and Sam Giancanna. When Chicago Sun-Times gossip columnist Irv Kupcinet’s car was illegally parked in front of the Esquire Theatre, Muller had it towed. Even actor Jack Webb couldn’t avoid Muller’s determined pen. While Webb played straight-laced Sgt. Joe Friday on the TV show “Dragnet,” Muller ticketed him for being drunk and disorderly.

But Muller’s actions didn’t sit well with the higher-ups back at headquarters. For doing his job and being a good cop, he was demoted to the cemetery beat. Then, to save face, the city made him a detective. Detectives, after all, don’t write tickets. Unable to turn a blind eye to lawbreakers, however, Muller continued his efforts to rid the city of crime.

In the early 1970s, Muller worked a number of cases involving the theft of high-end tires. His investigation led to the arrest of several high-ranking police officials. For speaking out about the case on the local news, he received a written reprimand from police administrators. Muller fought the disciplinary action all the way to the U.S. Court of Appeals, and won. The reprimand was eventually expunged from his record.

After nearly four decades on the force, Muller retired in 1981. He moved to Benedict Lake, Wis., took up fishing, wrote his autobiography (“I, Pig: Or, How the World’s Most Famous Cop, Me, Is Fighting City Hall”) and won $1.6 million in the lottery. He was also the subject of the biography, “Cycle Cop: The True Story of Jack Muller, the Chicago Giant-Killer Who Feared No Evil,” by Paul G. Neimark.

7 Responses to Jack Muller

  1. Barbara Zawislak Dick

    Jack Muller might have been Chicago’s most famous traffic cop but I got to meet him when I was just a little girl at Gaier’s drugstore in the Ravenswood neighborhood. He was kind and gentle to all the kids. He even signed my autograph book (which I have to this day). I remember him as a man of integrity. Those memories are 50 years old!
    God Bless you Jack! I hope you are up there with Fred (the pharmacist) and Ray (the mailman)
    having a good schmooze!

  2. RORY THOMSEN

    I had the chance to get to know jack for nearly twenty years. I also met his loving wife janet and son curt .ALL very nice people i did jacks grounds keeping in the 80s and 90s along with many other projects. At Jacks lakefront house in Genoa city Wisconsin. Jack your the best. GODBLESS

  3. Sue Kral

    I got to know Jack as I was going through his personal belongings at his esate sale. Sad to see all of his persoanl life being rummaged by strangers. Well I have great respect for you Jack and I sure wish I knew you when…

  4. Donna Burnett

    I was 14 and working for Kasten’s bakery when I met Jack back in 1956. His wife Janet and her family owned the bakery and he would stop in on Sunday nights. He was a good man, God Bless You, Jack.

  5. howard howie brenner

    Jack and I went to Marshall High School during the mid 1930’s. He was very close to my late wife, Goody and I always said that if anyone received a pass for a driving infraction it would have been Goody. He had a very strong exterior but a very soft interior as far as I was concerned. He was a very good policeman!
    Although he has been gone for a while I wish him godspeed.
    Rest easy friend.
    Howie Brenner

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