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Darien eyes police management

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ANN MARIE AMES
October 15, 2009
— Village Administrator Marc Dennison could get a new shirt Monday night.

The village police and public safety committee Wednesday night voted to recommend the village board put Dennison in charge of the beleaguered police department’s administrative duties.


The committee also recommended the board give the committee the power to settle with suspended Police Chief Steve DeVoy.


In a meeting that at times sounded like a pep talk and a lecture, committee Chairman John Evans said something’s got to give if the village is going to move past the legal battle with DeVoy that’s be going on since December.


“What we are facing right now is a very paralyzing situation when it comes to delivering police services,” Evans said. “We are at an impasse.”


The committee voted to take managerial responsibilities away from Darien’s acting police chief, Sgt. Mike Maltese, and give them to Dennison.


Evans said the change isn’t a criticism of Maltese. Rather, it reflects the fact that Maltese is a police union member or “blue shirt” being asked to make “white shirt” decisions, Evans said.


If the board at its regular meeting Monday night approves the recommendation, Dennison would be responsible for things such as scheduling and budgeting. Maltese would remain in charge of patrol decisions.


The committee also voted to recommend the board put the committee in charge of settling with DeVoy. The committee would meet with DeVoy behind closed doors with no attorneys, Evans said. The committee’s decision would be final and not need board approval, according to the motion.


This is an “olive branch” for the board, Evans said. It would take the responsibility away from the board that historically has split on votes related to the chief, he said.


Evans also made a motion to dissolve the police department Jan. 1. That would be the first step to ensure residents kept getting police services—possibly from the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office.


But after a discussion, Evans withdrew his motion, saying he knew it would not get support from board members Evelyn Etten and Debi Olmstead, who both are police committee members.


Evans said he preferred village officers continue to provide services. But at the rate the department is going that could be impossible by January, he said.


The department’s roster is short two full-time officers of what it was a year ago. Officer Chet Wilson resigned effective this Friday. DeVoy was suspended in December but continues to be paid.


The board in March voted to start the process to fire DeVoy, and a hearing to either uphold or change that decision is scheduled for November.


A motion hearing is scheduled next week in the matter. The hearing examiner is reading arguments from attorneys for the two sides and will decide if the board broke a contract when it voted against a settlement with DeVoy in September.



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