Police union to pay legal bills of Jon Burge

May 24, 2010 10:46:23 AM PDT
The Fraternal Order of Police has decided to pay the legal fees for Jon Burge, a former Chicago police lieutenant accused of lying about the torture of suspects. That decision is not sitting well with one Chicago alderman.

It appears now that part of the union dues of every Chicago police patrol officer will be used to pay for the legal defense of Burge. And the Fraternal Order of Police will spend the money on the retired Burge, who allegedly committed the crime as a civilian.

Despite the fact the federal case against Burge alleges he lied on a lawsuit deposition ten years after he left the Chicago Police Department, the F.O.Pl's 28 member board has voted to pay for the retired commander's legal defense.

A news release sympathized with Burge. It said the media is filled with "stories that have caused Jon Burge to be the 'poster child' of alleged police torture..." the release went on to say that "legal and political pressure is now the impetus for alleging perjury" and "its not fair."

And the F.O.P. blames the city council for creating an anti-Burge atmosphere when members voted to settle cases with torture victims. Alderman Ed Smith disagreed.

"They can say what they want. I respect the police and I work with the police, but the police have got to do it right and this man has caused a lot of problems to thousands of good police officers," said Smith, 28th Ward.

The police board fired Burge in 1993 after finding that cop-killer Andrew Wilson had been tortured. In 2005, a special prosecutor concluded that other suspects had been abused but that Burge and other detectives could not be prosecuted because the statute of limitations had expired on criminal assault charges.

The feds brought the perjury case earlier this year, basing it on an alleged lie that Burge told during a deposition on a torture- related civil lawsuit.

In the F.O.P. statement, President Mark Donahue called the newest charge a "fiasco" that has lowered the police department's morale. But Alderman Smith says the union's decision to defend Burge will further damage police/community relations.

"People are already calling the office who are saying, we in the past have supported the Fraternal Order of Police. We're not going to do that now," Smith said.

The entire F.O.P. membership did not vote to pay Burge's legal bills. It was a decision made by the union's 28-member board. It's also possible the union will pay to defend other retired cops who might face charges related to the torture investigation.


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