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.