Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jon Burge

Jon Burge: When the Thin Blue Line Breaks

      Countless times we hear about police misconduct and brutality and consider it as something that goes with the territory of being human. There are bad doctors, lawyers, construction workers, and yes even cops. Yet, every once in a while a sensational story comes around that grabs everyone's attention. Jon Burge, an ex-Chicago police commander has been alleged in the torture and coerced confessions of numerous individuals during his days of a Chicago police officer from 1970 to about 1992. Jon was a cop in a very different time than today. In today's modern times one would hope that police are monitored and have much more checks and balances that would not allow torture to run rampant across the department.  The Chicago times quoted Anthony Holmes, a Gangster's Disciple, who spent 30 years in prison after confessing to Burge,

"He took the box and plugged it into the wall," said Holmes, an imposing figure with his hair pulled into a tiny bun and tattoos dotting his arms. "He put one wire on my ankle (shackles) and I assume he put the other one on my handcuffs... He said, 'N-----, you're going to tell me what I want to know Holmes said Burge subjected him to repeated shocks and suffocated him with plastic bags until he passed out from the pain and lack of oxygen, Holmes said. Again and again, he was revived and the torture began anew.
"He kept doing me like that, I didn't know if it was daytime, nighttime -- I just couldn't take it," Holmes said. "I was in a different world. All I know is that when he took the bag off, I'd say whatever he wanted me to say" 
- Chicago Tribune

      Maybe even more worrysome, Burge had been given multiple commendations while working for the Chicago Police Department. He was working out of the Pullman area headquarters when many of the claims of abuse started to come out. A specific case that garnered a lot of attention was the murder of two police officers by two African American gang members. Burge was working in the beat where this heinous crime took place. Chicago police officers were outraged and officers were calling for heads to role. Burge quickly took in suspects from the area. All of the suspects had gang affiliation and were black. This is where Burge reportedly used many tactics to receive a confession including burning genitalia on radiators and the use of a cattle prod. (shown)

     Burge was never convicted of any of the alleged tortures. Instead, recently Patrick Fitzgerald charged Burge with obstruction of justice and perjury. I guess you could consider it a form of problem oriented policing for finding one way to punish acts. In the end. burge was convicted of two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury.

      Jon Burge brought shame to many in the Chicago Police Department. One must wonder how much police culture and pressures influenced the behavior of many police during that time for I am sure Burge was not the only one. If anything future police can be happy that times and culture have changed where behavior like this is not tolerated under any circumstances.



  1. Theres a ton of allegations regarding officers from back in the day. Im not sure how true most of them are though. Now a days anyone will believe anything. Something that happened 20 years ago is now being brought to light seems like something that needs to be seriously investigated in order to convict someone. I find it funny that it takes this long for the victim to come out and confess the crimes that were convicted against them.

  2. I can see where the first person to comment is coming from. It is suspicious for people to all the sudden come forward several years after the fact, but I agree with the writer that it is definitely a black eye on the Chicago PD. Because of the acts of one man, a whole department now seems like a bunch of corrupt cops beating false confessions out of unsuspecting petty criminals. An internal investigation should have been conducted far earlier than what was actually done.

  3. I have heard about this man in other classes and just foem living in Chicago. He has left and tarnished this police department forever. People who came forward could not do so back in those times especially if they were known criminals and gang members. Who would you believe? The respected police officer or the low life drug dealer. To put an innocent man in prison is inexcusable. Torturing subjects for them to confess is one of the lowest things a police officer can do. It shows the laziness and lack of moral responsibility within an individual. The Code of silence that police officers have allows things like this to happen.