The Chicago Way

Ask any cop and they will tell you that police departments maintain strong traditions and the bigger the department the stronger the traditions.  I was watching A PBS show the other night that dealt with English history. Julian Fellowes uses the backdrop of Burghley Manor to tell the story of people associated with the house.

William Cecil was the First Lord Burghley.  He was an advisor to Elizabeth I.  His chief claim to fame was engineering the execution of Mary Queen of Scots.  It was common at the time for nobles to supervise the education and upbringing of each other’s kids.  In addition to education these children held jobs, males were pages and acted as serving boys during meals.  Understand they didn’t do dishes or empty chamber pots.  This was a prestige thing.

The Earl of Oxford sent his son along Lord Burghley for an education.  Lord Burghley got screwed in the deal because the son Edward Devere was a shit head in waiting. On July 23, 1567,according to the inquest, Edward Devere 17 and Edward Bangham also 17 were engaging in practice swordplay.  Along came Thomas Brinknel, employed as a cook at the estate. An altercation ensued and Thomas Brinknel sustained a wound to the thigh inflicted by Edward Devere’s sword.

The Earl of Oxford was a political ally of Lord Burghley and one that he presumably wanted to keep.  That meant that the son, worthless as he was, had to be protected.   The slaying was dully investigated and a report was made and presented during an inquest presided over by the Coroner.  The Coroner’s verdict still exists and reached the following conclusion:

Edward Bangham and Edward Devere were practicing swordplay when Thomas Brinknel appeared in a drunken state.  He flew into a rage and charged Edward Devere.  In the process Brinknel, feloniously and intentionally impaled his thigh upon Devere’s sword, thus committing suicide.  The show with the details is here Inquest.  Thus was born a Chicago tradition, don’t tell us what happened, tell us what you want in the report. Devere and Brinknel were both cleared.

It’s kind of impressive, Chicago Police Department 449 years of tradition unimpeded by progress.