HAUPPAUGE - Suffolk's top uniformed officer stepped down Tuesday citing personal and family reasons, but the controversy surrounding his resignation has not yet gone away.
James Burke's departure comes at the same time as what appears to be a renewed federal investigation into alleged police misconduct. News 12 Long Island has confirmed that several Suffolk police officers have been issued subpoenas within the past few weeks, some as recently as today, to appear before a federal grand jury.
As News 12 has reported, federal authorities are looking into allegations made by Christopher Loeb, of Smithtown, who claims Burke beat him up after he was arrested for stealing a duffel bag out of Burke's SUV.
No charges have been filed against Burke. Still, Loeb's attorney Bruce Barket says his client does feel slightly vindicated that he is resigning.
"I'm not surprised that the chief is leaving his position. Frankly I was surprised he was allowed to stay in it as long as he was," says Barket.
Republican Legislator Robert Trotta (R – Fort Salonga), a former Suffolk police detective, questions how and why Burke was promoted so high.
"This guy had a high school education, a jaded background and rumors rampant around the department that he was in trouble all the time," Trotta tells News 12.
Supporters say Burke dedicated his career to improving the department. Suffolk PBA president Noel DiGerolamo called his departure "a tremendous loss to the department."
A statement from Executive Steve Bellone's spokesperson says the executive "is focused on making tough decisions based on what is in the best interest of Suffolk County residents and the men and women of the Suffolk County Police Department. Over the last four years crime has dropped 20 percent in Suffolk County and we are focusing our efforts on continuing that downward trend."