Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 11 years, 6 months, 24 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: Motorcycle Division
District of Incident (Present Day): 011 - Harrison
Cause of Death: Crash - Motorcycle (Pursuit)
Age at Time of Death: 39
Date of Birth: 24 Jul 1881
Date of Appointment: 23 Nov 1909
Date of Incident: 16 Jun 1921
End of Watch: 17 Jun 1921
Date of Interment: 20 Jun 1921
Cemetery: All Saints Catholic Cemetery - Des Plaines, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # B-7
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 11
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 5
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 20-E: 7
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Thomas W. Burke, Star #4986, aged 39 years, was an 11 year, 6 month, 24 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the Motorcycle Division.
On June 16, 1921, Officer Burke was in pursuit of a speeding vehicle on Crawford Avenue (present day Pulaski Road) near Huron Street when he lost control of his police motorcycle after it struck a pothole and it overturned. He was transported to St. Anne’s hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries on June 17, 1921.
After his death, Officer Burke’s widow spoke out about the deplorable condition of Crawford Avenue (present day Pulaski Road). The road was in such disrepair it had led to the injury of numerous motorcycle cops and ultimately her husband’s death.
Officer Burke was waked at this residence located at 1029 North Central Park Avenue. His funeral mass was held in Requiem at Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church located at 3808 West Iowa Street. He was laid to rest on June 20, 1921 in Calvary Cemetery, 301 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois. His grave was located 2nd from the North line in Lot 30, Block 22, Section D. On November 14, 1929, his grave was relocated to All Saints Catholic Cemetery, 700 North River Road, Des Plaines, Illinois.
Patrolman Thomas W. Burke, born July 24, 1881, received a Temporary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on February 8, 1907 prior to his Probationary Appointment to the Department on November 23, 1909.
Officer Burke was a member of the Chicago Policemen’s Benevolent & Welfare Association and O’Connor Council No. 687 Knights of Columbus. He was survived by his wife, Jean M.; son, Raymond; father, William and siblings: Mrs. William M. Guerin.
Chicago Police Department homicide file not found for this incident.