Brutality in the Police Department – Case Study Example
Topic: Brutality in the Police Department Introduction In the past few years, Chicago has experienced an increase in the cases of police coercing false confessions out of the suspects they arrest. The rate of this vice that was registered in Chicago was one of the highest in the United States. The case reported involved the use of brutality which included subjecting the patients to electric shocks, hitting them as well as depriving them air by putting plastic bags over their heads to get information out of them. The issue persisted to a point that it has required the Chicago Police Department to conduct an internal investigation that was to help identify the members of the force that were corrupt. It also sought to collect evidence of the cruel investigations that were going on.
Jon Burge, who was previously a commander in the Chicago police department, was at the centre of the allegations that had come up. It was stated that he had tormented and agonized more than a hundred men from 1973 to 1991 when he served in the department. He blatantly denied these allegations and in 1982 his indictment began after two officers of the police were killed as they were conducting regular traffic stops.
Torture of suspects by the police
A few days after the two police officers were killed; Andrew Wilson was brought to the police station for interrogation and questioning. In the period that he was in police custody, it was alleged that a number of officers with Burge as their commander, subjected him to beatings, used electricity to shock him and attempted to suffocate him with a plastic bag. The police had also forced him to lean against a hot radiator in an effort to get a confession out of him.
The officers that were mentioned in the allegations denied ever taking part in the torture of Wilson and of any other suspects. Some of the officers that had had witnessed suspects being tortured previously were bold enough to come out and bring with them evidence that supported the occurrence of these occurrence. This evidence made it clear that suspects were being tortured during interrogation to get confessions out of them.
Melvin Duncan was one of the people that came forward with this incriminating evidence. He had previously worked as a homicide detective in Chicago and he swore an affidavit that he had come across a box that contained a crank and wires which he found out was used in the torture of suspects through electrocution. His statements indicated that he had the knowledge that the torture was going on but he had never actually witnessed it in progress.
A sister to an officer that had previously worked in the department as a detective also came forward. There were allegations against the detective which stated that he and other officers had assisted commander Burge in torturing suspects during interrogations at the station. The sister to the detective in a sworn affidavit claimed that her brother, Robert Dwyer and Burge sung their own praises about subjecting suspects to torture when they were conducting interrogations. This testimony was a vital piece of evidence since it demonstrated that the culprits were talking about their actions in the interrogation room and it also gave evidence of planning and discussions for the brutal interrogations.
In 1993, the number of reported cases of these allegations greatly increased and this lead to the suspension of the commander and a number of officers that were at the associated with it. Burge was ultimately relieved from his duties as the commander but the other officers that had been implicated with him were allowed to go back to work. Wilson who was the victim of the torture filed a lawsuit against the police department and was awarded with settlement of USD1 million.
This set precedence and more lawsuits were filed by numerous inmates that were on death row who alleged that Burge and his officers had taken confessions from them by subjecting them to torture. From the lawsuits that were filed by the death row inmates, four were successful and inmates were eventually pardoned since the evidence showed that their confessions had been coerced. This made the then Governor of Illinois to decree that executions be suspended for a period of time so that the whole system could be overhauled as it had been seriously affected by this problem of brutality in the process of interrogating suspects.
From this point, the interrogations that were conducted by the police have underwent noteworthy changes and reforms but there was widespread agreement and consensus that there is still a long way to go as far as streamlining the force is concerned.
There are ever increasing cases where the law enforcement agencies record confessions which normally come after the suspects have been interrogated without informing them of their right to remain silent (Sidlow & Henschen, 2009, p. 94). This is not the approach that should be taken and making the jury judge the credibility of such a confession without getting a chance to look at the interrogation is equated to a medical examiner that conducts an autopsy without the corpse.
Sidlow, E. & Henschen, B. (2009). America at odds. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.