County Executive Steve Bellone released a statement indicating that he had no knowledge of disgraced former Police Chief James Burke’s history of misconduct when he appointed him Suffolk’s top cop in 2012. That seems hard to believe.
Burke’s history included having sex with a prostitute in a police vehicle while on duty, and losing his department issued firearm twice, among other transgressions. Before an individual is promoted within the police department, it’s standard practice for superiors to review his or her personnel folder.
Even if Bellone had no knowledge of Burke’s lack of education or checkered law enforcement career at the time he appointed him, how could he allow Burke to remain chief after seeing his past misconduct splashed across the pages of Newsday? How could he go along with Burke’s removal of Suffolk officers from federal task forces, as gang violence and a heroin epidemic ravage our county? Why did he stand by Burke as the shocking allegations of misconduct in the Christopher Loeb case became public and a federal investigation swirled around the department?
This cancer took root in the department and continued to spread, compromising the police department’s critical mission and betraying the public’s trust. Bellone has a lot of questions to answer.
Editor’s note: The writer is minority leader of the Suffolk County Legislature. This letter was also signed by four of the five other GOP legislators: Thomas Cilmi, Leslie Kennedy, Thomas Muratore and Robert Trotta.