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Former Chicago Police Supt. LeRoy Martin dies at 84

Mayor Harold WashingtLeRoy Mart1987. | Sun-Times file photo

Mayor Harold Washington and LeRoy Martin in 1987. | Sun-Times file photo

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Updated: September 1, 2013 6:41PM

Former Chicago Police Supt. LeRoy Martin, who led the department from 1987 until 1992, died Saturday.

Mr. Martin, who was 84, was appointed superintendent by the late Mayor Harold Washington and also served under former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Dawn Martin said her father died Saturday morning at Franciscan St. Margaret Health-Dyer in Dyer, Ind., as a result of heart failure.

Mr. Martin joined the department in 1955 and remained for 36 years, retiring as superintendent at 63.

After taking his police pension, Mr. Martin went to work for the Cook County medical examiner’s office, where he was chief of investigations.

In his youth, Mr. Martin worked shining shoes on the West Side. He went on to become a bus driver before joining the Police Department, where he started out as a patrolman on a beat in the Burnside district on the city’s South Side.

An alumnus of Crane Technical High School, he went on, during his rise through the police ranks, to study at Roosevelt University, where he got a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1972 and a master’s in public administration in 1976. Mr. Martin made sergeant in 1965 and lieutenant in 1975 on his way to becoming the second African American to serve as superintendent of the Chicago department. He succeeded Supt. Fred Rice, the first.

Mr. Martin headed the department during a period that Area 2 detectives under the supervision of now-imprisoned former Police Cmdr. Jon Burge allegedly tortured crime suspects to get confessions and, for a time, he had been Burge’s boss as commander of Area 2.

While superintendent, he was given a report by the department’s Office of Professional Standards that found crime suspects were “systematically” brutalized at Area 2 detective headquarters under Burge for a dozen years — a report Martin dismissed, calling its methodology “flawed and unsubstantiated, bringing into serious question the credibility of its conclusions.”

He also dismissed the OPS finding that certain Area 2 commanders were aware of the abuse, saying, “It’s a lie, an outright lie. Whoever said that doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”

Mr. Martin was accused by an attorney for police-torture victims of having “sat on” the report for 15 months, but ultimately he ordered hearings that resulted in Burge’s dismissal in 1993.

In 1998, Mr. Martin, a Republican, mounted an unsuccessful challenge to Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan.

In retirement, Dawn Martin said, her father enjoyed fixing up apartment buildings he owned and going out to eat with his Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity brothers.

He is also survived by his wife Constance and sons LeRoy Martin Jr. and Ron Martin. Funeral arrangements are pending.


Twitter: @ctoner

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