Good cops stuck with stigma left be­hind by Burge

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION - Bob An­gone, Mi­ra­mar Beach, Florida SEND LET­TERS, in­clud­ing your neigh­bor­hood or home­town and a phone num­ber for ver­i­fi­ca­tion pur­poses, to let­ters@ suntimes. com.

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.

Jon Burge

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