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updated: 7/19/2011 2:37 PM

Gurnee police chief optimistic about pending internal probe

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  • Gurnee Police Chief Robert Jones is on paid administrative leave pending the results of an internal investigation.

      Gurnee Police Chief Robert Jones is on paid administrative leave pending the results of an internal investigation.
    Daily Herald file

 
 

Gurnee Police Chief Robert Jones is on paid administrative leave pending the results of an internal investigation.

Mayor Kristina Kovarik confirmed Jones has been off the job with pay since Thursday. A Chicago labor law firm with no ties to Gurnee has been hired to investigate the complaint against Jones that was made by another village employee.

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"Just for the sake of the (police) organization, we want it wrapped up quickly," Kovarik said.

Reached Tuesday, Jones was optimistic about how the internal probe will turn out.

"They're doing an investigation," he said, "and when it's fully over, I expect to be back to work."

Per standard operating procedure, the complaint about Jones recently was lodged with Village Administrator James Hayner's office. Kovarik said Hayner conducted interviews as part of the process before it was decided to take the next step by placing Jones on paid leave and seeking the internal probe.

"There was enough concern," Kovarik said, "and then Jim and I had a discussion."

Jones has been Gurnee's top cop since 1994 after working in Elmhurst as a commander.

Some trustees have been critical of how Jones runs the police department.

Last year, Trustees Greg Garner and Kirk Morris questioned why a recognition letter issued by Jones for a police officer's good work provided new information about early-morning fights and damage at Gurnee Mills in November 2009 -- three months after the fact.

Jones headed the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police in 2005. Also in 2005, he received the Law Enforcement Recognition award from the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.

He was honored for his many efforts to reduce gun violence. Jones led the formation of a partnership with Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World at Gurnee Mills to provide free trigger locks for village residents who own guns and helped lead the effort for the renewal of the federal assault weapons ban in 2004.

Kovarik said deputy police chiefs Kevin Woodside and Terri Kincaid are leading the department in Jones' absence.

Once the internal investigation is completed, Kovarik said, the village board will review the findings in a closed-door session. Village board members would decide what -- if any -- action to take against Jones.

Kovarik stressed the probe involving Jones is adhering to the village's well-defined employee manual.

"Any employee, we treat them equally no matter what the position is," she said.

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