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updated: 5/19/2010 12:50 PM

Elgin investigating whether two cops are in inappropriate relationship

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  • Elgin Deputy Chief Bob Beeter and Sgt. Tamara Welter at an accreditation conference in July 2009 in Virginia. This photo was obtained by the Daily Herald through the Freedom of Information Act.

      Elgin Deputy Chief Bob Beeter and Sgt. Tamara Welter at an accreditation conference in July 2009 in Virginia. This photo was obtained by the Daily Herald through the Freedom of Information Act.

 
 

Two Elgin police officers are being investigated for a potentially inappropriate supervisor-subordinate relationship.

City Manager Sean Stegall has confirmed that city hall is close to wrapping up an investigation into a relationship between two high-ranking members of the department's management team. He refused to name those targeted.

Acting on several tips from within the department, the Daily Herald, under the Freedom of Information Act, requested all departmental text messages and e-mail correspondence between Deputy Chief Bob Beeter and Sgt. Tamara Welter from May 2009 through December 2009.

The city responded by releasing the reports and 419 departmental e-mails between them. Text messages were not available because they are deleted every 12 days.

E-mails show that during work hours, Welter and Beeter discussed taking trips together, talked about spending Thanksgiving together and arranged private encounters.

Multiple messages left on the office lines and cell phones for Beeter and Welter Thursday were not returned.

Welter's husband, Lt. Greg Welter, works in the same building.

He filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences, on Dec. 23. The Welters have been married for nearly 14 years and have three children.

Contacted for the first time Thursday, Greg Welter said he learned of the relationship in November when he accidentally discovered a suggestive departmental e-mail between Beeter and Tamara Welter. That led him to numerous other e-mail exchanges, he said.

"The content of the e-mails was enough to convince me that there was a personal relationship and they were obviously having an affair with one another," said Greg Welter, a 29-year department veteran.

He said he approached Stegall with evidence in December and the city launched an investigation shortly thereafter.

The relationship appears to violate both the police department's fraternization policy and code of ethics.

Under the fraternization policy, an employee is not supposed to supervise relatives or other people in which a personal relationship exists.

Both worked in the operations bureau, but Welter did not report directly to Beeter. She answered to a lieutenant who then reported to Beeter.

Per the policy, a supervisor is "a person who has authority, direct or indirect, over another by virtue of their rank or job classification."

The policy also warns: "Failure by an employee to report relationships to their immediate supervisor compromises the integrity of the department's chain of command, disrupts the work environment, causes decline in morale and can reduce productivity. Any failure to report relationships as required by this directive shall constitute misconduct and a violation of department policy and may subject an employee to disciplinary action."

The relationship has caused consternation among the ranks in the Elgin department, and has been a topic of discussion in other Fox Valley police departments.

Hired in 1993, Beeter was promoted to deputy chief in 2003 and then ran the department whenever former police chiefs William Miller and Lisa Womack were absent. Beeter, 48, also was interim chief for six months after Miller retired in 2005. He made $123,969 last year.

Welter, 40, is the department's accreditation manager who oversees both the crime-free housing unit and the resident officer program of Elgin, also known as ROPE. She was promoted to sergeant in 2007 and made $92,507 last year.

When officers sign the code of ethics, they vow to "keep my private life unsullied as an example to all and will behave in a manner that does not bring discredit to me or my agency."

To this point, no disciplinary action has been taken in the matter, but the relationship may have prompted a shift in the department's upper management.

The Daily Herald requested the e-mails and text messages on Dec. 28, and the next day an internal memo from then-Chief Womack announced position changes for the three deputy chiefs effective five days later. Beeter was moved to oversee the support bureau, which includes records, training and emergency communications.

Beeter and Welter both remain on duty.

When asked if this situation was a reason for Womack's resignation on April 1, Stegall declined to comment.

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