Good cops stuck with stigma left behind by Burge
The shameful stench of Police Cmdr. Jon Burge and his crew of detectives participating in police torture tactics is an anchor around anyone who was or is a member of the Chicago Police Department. From the early 1970s through the early 1990s, the majority of us who wore that uniform and served this city have lived with the rumors, the accusations, the denials, the ongoing evidence and the millions paid out to the injured (“The shameful story of Chicago’s Jon Burge” — Aug. 28).
This sad chapter is now headed for the classrooms for the eighth- and 10thgrade students of Chicago’s public schools. It is my hope that the teachers will use the word “some” when describing the cops who are accused. Twenty cops and one commander does not tell the accurate story of the other thousands that have served then and now with courage and honor.
We have to keep in mind that Harold Washington was the mayor who selected Fred Rice to be superintendent, and it was Fred Rice who promoted Jon Burge to commander of detectives in Area 2. Also at that time, we had as state’s attorney Richard M. Daley, whose office prosecuted the Burge arrestees. The people of Chicago elected Daley five times to be their mayor.
We all heard the rumors during those times. Few of us were privy to the arrests and prosecutions, but it seems obvious to me that more than one commander and 20 cops were involved in this detestable part of Chicago’s history. Supervision and accountability is a must in any organization, but it should not extend to just Chicago’s cops. The failure and lack of accountability extends to many others, and the sooner we admit that, as Police Supt. Eddie Johnson has said, the sooner we can go forward.
Sooner or later, we have to realize that supervision and accountability are crucial and vital components. Those students will surely learn that to ignore history is to repeat it.