Star added in honor of cop killed in 1853

March 2, 2010 (CHICAGO)

The stars, or badges, remember officers killed in the line of duty. Most of them from long ago and almost forgotten. However, one star -- that of Constable James Quinn -- stands out.

"This includes the death of Constable James Quinn who died in 1853 and is now recognized as the first Chicago Policeman killed in the line of duty," said Supt. Jody Weis.

James Quinn had basically disappeared from police records, but eight years ago his story came back to life. A book called "End of Watch," which was written by Alderman Ed Burke and Thomas O'Gorman, tells the story of every Chicago police officer killed in the line of duty from 1853 to 2006. The first officer in there is Constable James Quinn. But that didn't become official until this ceremony.

It had been assumed since 1854 that Casper Lauer was the department's first slain officer. But actually it was Quinn, who was beaten to death almost nine months earlier. Rick Barrett discovered the death eight years ago while researching his own police family history.

"Nobody knew about it. I was excited. I felt like I found a lost sheep, like the good shepherd. So I called the police department and I told them about this guy I found," said Barrett.

But it took eight more years for the discovery to become official.

"I think any bureaucracy, whether it's the police department of the federal government, is resistant to acknowledging a mistake," Ald. Burke said.

Not even Quinn's great-, great-grandson knew anything about his ancestor's death.

"I'm thinking that the family has an honored place in Chicago history ... and I'm speechless," said Michael Quinn O'Brien, great-, great-grandson of Quinn.

"It's never too late to honor members of the Chicago Police Department who lost their lives in the service of their fellow human beings," said Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Eleven fallen officers in total were honored at the ceremony. Their stars were also retired and added to the star case.

All of the officers died in the line of duty between 1853 and 1994. They now meet the new guidelines for retirement of a star that were changed in 2005.

There are 476 stars in the case.

Copyright © 2023 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.