Memorial to Gerard W. Burke, Jr.

End of Watch: March 23, 2006
Rank: Sergeant   Badge No. S-192
Age: 39   Years of Service: 16 years
Location of Death: 2800 Block of 11th Street, NW
Duty Assignment: Third District

 

Circumstance:

At approximately 5:08 pm on Thursday, March 23, 2006, off-duty 39-year-old Sergeant Gerard W. Burke Jr., a 16-year-veteran with the Metropolitan Police Department’s Third District, was operating his private vehicle southbound on 11th Street, NW. While in the 2800 block of 11th Street, NW, Sergeant Burke was utilizing his cell phone to contact Police Communications and check on a suspected stolen Honda being operated in front of him by a young teenager.

It was at this time that Sergeant Burke suffered an apparent medical emergency and his vehicle crashed into other cars before coming to a stop. Sergeant Burke was taken to the Washington Hospital Center’s MedStar Unit and pronounced dead. The driver of one of the vehicles struck by Sergeant Burke’s vehicle was also taken to the Washington Hospital Center and treated and released.

The autopsy conducted by the DC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner indicates that the initial cause of death was due to a ruptured aorta and not the traffic accident. Chief of Police Charles H. Ramsey has ruled Sergeant Burke’s death to be in the performance of duty.

It was later determined that the Honda had been stolen that same day from the 3600 block of New Hampshire Avenue, NW. The vehicle was recovered at approximately 1:22 am, on Friday, March 24, in the 1300 block of Spring Road, NW.

Biography:

Sergeant Gerard Burke was a 16-year veteran of the MPDC. Burke, who grew up on Long Island, N.Y., and received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Catholic University, joined the department in 1990. He was engaged to be married.
Over the years, Sergeant Burke distinguished himself for heroism and excellence. He received the Bronze Star for administering CPR to fellow officer Brian Gibson who was ambushed and shot in February 1997 at the corner of Georgia and Missouri Avenues, NW. Sergeant Burke also received the Achievement Medal in 2003, and the Police Service Area he led — PSA 302 — was named the PSA of the Year for ROC-Central in 2005.

Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.
THE DEATH OF SERGEANT GERALD W. BURKE JR ON MARCH 23, 2006
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MARCH 25, 2006, PAGE B3
Stricken Officer Watchful Till the End
Driving through his neighborhood on his day off, D.C. police Sgt. Gerard W. Burke Jr. spotted something suspicious about a tan Honda Civic traveling down Kenyon Street in Northwest Washington.

Burke, who was on his way to catch a plane to New York for a funeral, did not hesitate Thursday night.
He picked up his cellphone and called a dispatcher, saying he thought the car was stolen and being driven by someone who looked 14 years old. He asked for help because he couldn’t pull the car over in his personal Ford Explorer.

“He doesn’t know I’m behind him yet,” Burke, 39, said as he told the dispatcher his location on 11th Street NW about 5:15 p.m., according to an audiotape of the 911 call released yesterday by police.

A few seconds later, Burke can be heard gasping. Static fills the line.

The highly honored officer then crashed into parked cars and was hit by a vehicle. He died at Washington Hospital Center. An autopsy revealed yesterday that he suffered a fatal rupture of a major blood vessel, probably before the crash, police officials said.

Burke’s actions led D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey yesterday to rule that his death came in the performance of duty. He will be buried with full police honors in coming days.

“He was one of the best this department has to offer,” Ramsey said. “He was off duty in his personal vehicle. . . . Yet he saw what his instincts told him was a hot car, and he took action.”

Burke, who grew up on Long Island, N.Y., and received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Catholic University, joined the department in 1990. He was engaged to be married, police officials said.

Burke was named sergeant of the year in the 3rd Police District in 2005 and lived in the police service area where he was assigned.

Cmdr. Larry McCoy and other officers praised Burke’s instincts in noticing the car, which wasn’t reported stolen to police until three hours after the crash, they said.

The Civic was recovered about 1:20 a.m. yesterday in the 1300 block of Spring Road NW, police said.

McCoy said that several years ago he needed help squelching problems in another area of town. He tapped Burke to supervise officers in those neighborhoods. Burke took the assignment without complaint, but community leaders and residents in the area he left grumbled about the move.

“I got a flood of calls from people asking me why I was taking Sergeant Burke away from them,” McCoy said.
D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4) remembered running into Burke at community meetings when the sergeant worked in the 4th Police District. “He was omnipresent,” Fenty said.

Several weeks ago, residents in Parkview complained about youths racing motorbikes in alleys behind Warder Street and Park Road NW, community leaders said.

Burke couldn’t chase the kids because it would have been dangerous. So he kept watch, learned their identities and confronted them. He told the youths that driving the vehicles without permits or licenses was illegal. He apparently scared them into putting the bikes away.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED MARCH 29, 2006, PAGE B4
Sergeant Leaves Legacy of Valiant Service; Mourners Hear Officer’s Last Call To
Dispatcher
D.C. police Sgt. Gerard W. Burke Jr. received all of the tributes and pageantry yesterday that go with a memorial service for an officer who died while performing his duties: the honor guard poised with flags and rifles, colleagues in dress blue uniforms and white gloves, and crisp salutes as his coffin was carried from the church. A police helicopter did a flyby overhead.

But what happened next was extraordinary.
Police officials played an audiotape of Burke’s last call to dispatchers over loudspeakers on the street outside St. Patrick Catholic Church in Northwest Washington. The recording captured the sergeant trailing a stolen car Thursday night. It was his day off, and he was heading to the airport to catch a plane. But he wanted dispatchers to summon uniformed officers to make the traffic stop.

During that short call, Burke ruptured a major blood vessel. He can be heard gasping for air before crashing his SUV into some parked cars. He later died at a hospital. The tape brought tears to the eyes of fellow officers attending the service and construction workers at a nearby building who had halted work to observe the ceremony.

“It was very touching,” Detective Kirk Delpo said. Delpo was among the hundreds of officers, civic leaders and friends who gathered yesterday morning to pay homage to Burke, 39, a 16-year veteran of the force known for his dedication to duty and his community. He was a vigorous officer who carried a sledgehammer in the trunk of his cruiser to break down doors, when necessary, to execute search warrants.

D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, who recounted the chill he felt when he listened to the 911 tape Friday morning, called Burke a “person who took action and wasn’t afraid to do what needed to be done,” even on his day off.
On the tape, Burke gave “very clear and concise direction” to help dispatchers send officers to the right spot on 11th Street in Northwest Washington, said Ramsey, who officially determined last week that Burke’s death came in the performance of his professional duties.

The chief said he would ask the mayor to rename the 3rd Police District’s substation, where Burke was assigned, in honor of the sergeant. Burke’s badge will be retired in coming months, and there will be an official Gerard W. Burke Jr. class of police recruits, Ramsey added.

“His influence was tremendous,” Ramsey said.
Burke, who was reared in New York State and graduated from Catholic University with a bachelor’s degree in 1989, joined the District police department in 1990. He was engaged to be married. And he lived in the same Northwest Washington neighborhood — Columbia Heights — that he patrolled for the 3rd District. His funeral is scheduled for tomorrow in New York.

Commanders said Burke was a highly decorated officer who was commended for his work on a federal task force in the 1990s by the FBI director at the time, Louis J. Freeh. He received the police department’s bronze star award for giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in 1997 to fellow D.C. officer Brian T. Gibson, who had been ambushed and shot on a Northwest Washington street. Ramsey credited Burke’s efforts with keeping Gibson alive long enough for family members to visit his hospital bed before his death. Burke also was named the 2005 sergeant of the year for the 3rd District.

Police officers said Burke was not afraid to help people in need.
He once gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to an elderly homeless man who had been attacked. The man was a well-known intravenous drug user. Police officials said other officers might have shied away from such direct contact. After trying to save the man’s life, Burke then scrambled around the scene to help gather evidence that led to a suspect’s arrest in the case, said Cmdr. Larry McCoy, Burke’s boss.

A friend and colleague, Officer Richard T. Feser, remembered Burke this way to mourners at yesterday’s service: He “accomplished in 16 years what many accomplish in a lifetime.”

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 21, 2008, PAGE T14
D.C. Council Agenda
This is the meeting schedule for the D.C. Council and its committees for the coming week. All meetings are in the Council Chamber of the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, unless otherwise noted.
Committee of the whole public hearing, 10 a.m., Room 123. Agenda: “E.W. Stevenson Avenue Designation Act of 2007,” Bill 17-0064. “Gerald W. Burke Junior Building Designation Act of 2007,” Bill 17-0175. “Rev. M. Cecil Mills Way Designation Act of 2007,” Bill 17-0176. “Ethel Kennedy Bridge Designation Act of 2007,” Bill 17-0229. “Abe Pollin Way Designation Act of 2007,” Bill 17-0514.

Public safety and the judiciary oversight hearings on agency performance, 10 a.m. Agenda: Attorney General and Administrative Hearings offices.

Human services oversight hearings on agency performance, 10 a.m., Room 412. Agenda: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Child and Family Services Agency; 4 p.m., Board of Social Work.
Housing and urban affairs committee meeting, 2 p.m., Room 120. The agenda had not been set at press time.
Committee of the whole oversight hearings on agency performance, 10 a.m. Agenda: D.C. public schools.
Public works and the environment oversight hearings on agency performance, 10 a.m., Room 412. Agenda: 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Water and Sewer Authority and Washington Aqueduct; 2-6 p.m., Department of Public Works.
Public services and consumer affairs oversight hearings on agency performance, 10 a.m. Agenda: 10 a.m.-noon, Office of Tenant Advocate; 1-5 p.m., Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
Public safety and the judiciary oversight hearings on agency performance, 10 a.m., Room 412. Agenda: Office of Police Complaints, Justice Grants Administration, Metropolitan Police Department/Forensics Lab, Corrections Information Council and Department of Corrections”.
Committee of the whole public hearing, 2 p.m., Room 123. Agenda: “Closing of a Public Alley in Square 700, S.O. 07-9626, Act of 2007,” Bill 17-0552.
Public works and the environment public hearing, 2 p.m., Room 120. Agenda: Sections 8 and 10(c) of “Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act of 2007,” Bill 17-0138.
Committee of the whole public hearing, 2:45 p.m., Room 123. Agenda: “Dedication of Land for Street Purposes, the Establishment of a Building Restriction Line, and the Removal of a 50-Foot Right of Way from the Highway Plan on Lot 822, in Square 1346, S.O. 06-9107 and S.O. 06-9108, Act of 2008,” Bill 17-0588.
Public works and the environment public hearing, 5 p.m., Room 120. Agenda: “Public Space Vaults Rental Fees Relief Amendment Act of 2007,” Bill 17-0266.
Public works and the environment oversight hearings on agency performance, 10 a.m. Agenda: 10 a.m.-noon, Department of Motor Vehicles; 1-2 p.m., Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Commission; 2-6 p.m., D.C. Taxicab Commission.
Economic development oversight hearings on agency performance, 10 a.m., Room 412. Agenda: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Department of Small and Local Business Development; 2 p.m., Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
Public works and the environment committee meeting, 11 a.m., Room 123. The agenda had not been set at press time.
Public services and consumer affairs committee meeting, 2 p.m., Room 120. The agenda had not been set at press time.
Finance and revenue oversight hearings on agency performance, 11 a.m. Agenda: D.C. Lottery and Charitable Games Control Board and Office of the Chief Financial Officer (including the Office of Finance and Resource Management, Office of Financial Operations and Office of Finance and Treasury).
Committee of the whole oversight hearings on agency performance, 11 a.m., Room 412. Agenda: 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Office of the State Superintendent of Education; 3 p.m., University of the District of Columbia.
Health committee meeting, 2 p.m., Room 123. The agenda had not been set at press time.