Yearly Tab for Ald. Burke’s Bodyguards Nearly $600,000
FRIDAY, AUGUST 5, 2011
CHICAGO—The tab to Chicago taxpayers for providing a Chicago Police Department bodyguard detail to Ald. Edward M. Burke? Almost $600,000 per year.
That’s according to newly released figures from the Emanuel administration covering 2009.
The top-paid officer made more than $150,000 that year, according to the figures made public in response to a lawsuit filed by the Better Government Association.
The other police officers on the bodyguard detail made $147,000, $140,000, $133,000 and — for a part-time officer — $25,000, for a total of $595,000.
Those figures included salary and overtime pay but not health or pension benefits, according to City Hall.
Burke, who as chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee is the city’s most powerful alderman, has had a police bodyguard detail to protect and chauffeur him around for nearly 30 years. It dates to when he marshaled opposition to then-Mayor Harold Washington during the 1980s’ "Council Wars" and was the subject of threats. The police department tried to cut the detail in 1986, but Burke sued, and Cook County Judge Joseph Wosik allowed him to keep the police protection.
The detail has long been a source of contention among aldermen. Mayor Rahm Emanuel threatened to pull the guards during his successful campaign to succeed former Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Emanuel backed off that threat but said last month he would reduce the size of the police bodyguard detail for Burke — cutting it to two and staffing the detail with retired cops — in the face of massive budget worries and a shortage of officers on the streets.
The BGA sued eight months ago to force the police department to release information about Burke’s bodyguards after initially being refused.