Jeff Lange

CHICAGO CALLING: Jeff Lange Upholds Proud Irish Tradition

Irish cops are the modern-day equivalent of our ancient mythological Irish warriors. They are courageous, bold, intrepid, and often hilarious. Who else confronts dangerous criminals, evil drug lords, and the clinically stupid every day?

Jeff Lange is retired from the Cook County Sheriff’s Police where he spent 30 years on the job and 22 of those years as a narcotics investigator, often under cover.

He was living in the same house he grew up in Bridgeport in his early twenties when he started working as a bouncer at several Rush Street bars, including the infamous “Shenanigans”. 

Lange with MEG Partner Sgt Paul Yurinich

Lange with MEG Partner Sgt Paul Yurinich

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“It was a lot of fun, probably too much fun from what I was told, some people suggested I should start testing for different police departments. I had an uncle who was on the job, he was a watch commander in the Deuce at the time, (2ndDistrict).”

Jeff wound up starting at the Cook County Jail in ’86 and “in ’91 I got the call to go to the Sheriff’s Police.”

He went through the Academy, worked with FTO’s, (Field Training Officers),…”I was a patrolman for a few years, became an FTO myself and then I worked for a boss who decided that I probably had a better future in gangs and narcotics. He liked some of the stuff I was doing with local gang bangers, stuff like that.”

Stuff like arresting them?

Jeff and Cathy Lange

Jeff and Cathy Lange


That’s about the time Jeff started working the MEG unit, Metropolitan Enforcement Group. “There were MEGs all over the US, it’s a task force, all undercover narcotics work. It was police officers from the state, county, and local municipalities. You were put together in small groups and teams, it was all mixed up, and you basically went out, develop informants, and start buying dope. Our basic focus was mid-level and up narcotic dealers. Back then it was mostly cocaine and heroin.”

Lange can be a scary looking dude, he’s tall and imposing with the sinister stache, and it was about this time he got his first tattoo of “a big leprechaun eating a human heart, blood dripping all over his sport coat.”

Lange leads Dublin parade

Lange leads Dublin parade

One night in Robbins,  Jeff and his MEG unit were executing a search warrant when things got crazy. The suspect under investigation bolted out the back door like OJ Simpson running for daylight, only this guy was naked. They had disturbed his slumber or perhaps some late-night nookie. That’s when they  released Zeus the wonder dog for the chase. “One of the biggest German Shepherds I ever saw; everybody was terrified of the dog. And the dog is gaining ground, faster and faster. And when the dog leaped, he took a chomp of this guy in the lower extremities, and there were police helicopters above and they captured the entire scene with infrared cameras and it looks like a little stick figure running and then the stick figure dog attacking and chomping.”

Cop cartoons!

Jeff does not miss the under-cover work. “The only thing I’ve missed since the day I stepped away was teaching at the academy. The fun part was having our own police academy, training police officers from all over the state, being with these new police recruits coming in on day one, being there when they're power testing to try to get into the academy. We used to call it Black Monday. And then being there running with them on Friday mornings, working out with them. The stuff that I taught that I was certified to teach at the academy, watching how they come from where they started to where they're at the end. And to this day, wherever I go, I run into so many of my students, and they're everywhere. They're absolutely everywhere. It's always cool to run into them.

Jeff Lange in his man cave

Jeff Lange in his man cave

Jeff met his wife Cathy at the Cook County Jail. She’s a pistol in her own right. She was an officer with the Sheriff’s Police then as well. They are a great team, both long time members of The Emerald Society and very involved with their Irish American police community helping and giving back with scholarships for needy children and promoting the great work of Irish law enforcement officers. They welcome the visiting Garda from Ireland to their home every St. Patrick’s Day, and in 2015 Jeff and Cathy led the color guard with the Emerald Society in the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Absolutely great people!