Most of you did not have the privilege to know Hector Jordan.  To some of us he was a partner, a son, a Father, a brother, an uncle - to all of us, he was a special man - he was a cop!

His name was Hector Jordan.  At varying times he carried the titles of "Officer", "Detective", "Special Agent" -  but it was Hector Jordan's singular presence, zeal and integrity that would define his career in law enforcement.  Designated assignments were merely the canvass upon which he would create, with broad strokes of dedication and conviction, a work of professional art.

The fleeting years of Jordan's brief live unfurled like a freeway paved in wanderlust, a path of discovery that encompassed myriad lives, absorbing adventures and heart-wrenching realities.  Far beyond the length of his mortal hours, his far reaching sphere of influence would forever etch his deeds, courage and vitality in the memories of those who experienced his endeavors.  They know Hector Jordan as a street cop, an agent, a man whose fulfillment was in righting the countless wrongs which were the daily bread of his chosen work.

The journey began in El Paso, Texas, in the shadows of a church yard, where the first generation American was born in 1931, Hector would be the last of three children in the family of Alfredo - a truck driver by day, and an ardent musician by night -  and Jessie, a woman willful and confident ahead of her time, whose offspring were her life's mission.

The then sleepy town of the Rio Grande which harbors a Hispanic community as Latin as any south of the border, would nurture a fierce ethnic pride among the Jordan off-spring.  But prejudice became a harsh reality for the family as it moved north to Aurora, Illinois.

Jordan enrolled in high school although he wouldn't graduate until years later from night school.  Lack of a formal education would forever haunt his ego, an his resume.  Yet, he would overcome the handicap with keen instincts, rapid action street savvy and an uncommon wisdom that cannot be achieved in a classroom or earned by degree.  Such resourcefulness and judgment comes from a life lived on the edge, in places, and with people not found in the scholastic womb or the corporate cocoon.

Hector had an easy charm and a sense of humor which would render many of his antics and outrageous practical jokes legendary.  He had the kind of imposing charisma and Latin good looks that turned heads when he walked into the room.

The turning point in Jordan's life came when he applied to be the first Hispanic officer on the Aurora Police Department He was exhilarated by the potential to take on the uncharted territory of law enforcement. But that dream evolved into a nightmare shortly after he was offered the job. A meeting of department chieftains behind closed doors revealed underlying trepidation over this "affirmative action." They wanted to establish sonic ground rules for Jordan's interaction with "his people" --to have him tread carefully in dealing with "white" citizens, since his hiring was, after all, a break from tradition.

Jordan was angry and demoralized, his staunch pride in his heritage was humiliated. He halted plans to pick tip his uniform and informed the department that they could conduct their "experiment" with a more 'pliable" candidate. The officials quickly altered their tone and position and urged Jordan to reconsider. He did --but would never forget the insidious bias that his birthright would inspire, and resolved that his achievements would render such prejudice a travesty.

Rowdy Saturday nights on skid row, stake outs that stretched into predawn hours, stand offs with thugs --all became the landscape of his life. Jordan had an irresistible curiosity about the secrets of the criminal mind. Any case he pursued was a full time effort, and it was not his burden, but his joy, to take his investigations home and enlist his family and friends to advance a lead.

The name Hector Jordan turned up on countless city commendations, including Policeman of the Year. Beyond the spotlight, he was often practicing off-duty social work -- lending a hand to everyone from the indigent families he met caught in the crossfire of crime and adversity, to the helpless wino on the street corner in need of a meal.

Jordan's quest for new challenges eventually took him to the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs --today's D.E.A. --where he fast distinguished himself as one of the nation's most productive, and tireless and imaginative agents. His well honed street smarts, bold spirit and dramatic bent pulled him out of countless near death confrontations.

But in the fall of 1970, just as he was preparing to head up the Bureau's force in Madrid, Spain, the adventure came to an abrupt and agonizing end. Seven known addicts and troublemakers ganged up on Jordan and brutally beat him to death. Off-duty he was reluctant to use his gun even though the odds were seven to one. Hector lost his life to a gang of savage thugs on a rampage.

The ever looming reality of law enforcement is the fate which befell Hector Jordan, but his triumph beyond morality is in a life lived in undaunted enthusiasm, purpose and vision. The passion and pride particular to his Mexican heritage ever enriched his gift for experiencing each day, each challenge to the fullest.

For every cop, living those precious and vulnerable moments fully, is the ultimate legacy. It’s a batter proof, bulletproof protection for no regrets -- and it was a way of life. until death, for Hector Jordan.

HISLEA has chosen to immortalize Hector Jordan through the annual presentation of the Hector Jordan Memorial Award at our recognition banquet.  It is presented to the one individual who through the course of his/her duties has continuously lived up to the spirit and values of HISLEA.  The award is in recognition for a lifetime of bravery, or a single act for which one might deserve recognition for a lifetime of contribution, sacrifice and perseverance against odds which most of us never overcome.


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