Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik says she expects to announce a decision next month on the job future of the village's police chief, who's been on paid administrative leave pending results of an internal investigation stemming from employee complaints.
Chief Robert Jones has been off the job with pay since July 14. A Chicago labor law firm with no ties to Gurnee was hired investigate the internal accusations against Jones, officials said.
Contact information ( * required )
Kovarik said the law firm has concluded its probe and Gurnee village board trustees received an update behind closed doors this week. She said a final report soon will be submitted with the probe's findings, and a decision on Jones should be announced in public at the Sept. 12 village board meeting.
"Absolutely there will be a public announcement," she said. "It's important to the entire community."
Jones had little to say about his situation when contacted this week. He indicated he was unaware of when Kovarik intends to reveal his future as Gurnee's top cop.
"Sept. 12 -- that's the first I've heard about it," he said.
Last month, Jones said he expects the internal investigation will be in his favor and he'll return to work as police chief.
Kovarik said male and female police department employees filed the complaints against Jones. She said the accusations don't go back more than 12 months.
Per standard operating procedure, the complaints about Jones were 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 external probe.
Kovarik, in her role as mayor, is allowed to make the decision alone on whether Jones should stay or go after reviewing the law firm's findings.
"It certainly would be something I would discuss with the board," she said. "These are never easy decisions."
Jones has been Gurnee's police chief since 1994 after working in Elmhurst as a commander. Deputy police chiefs Kevin Woodside and Terri Kincaid are leading the department in Jones' absence.
Trustee Greg Garner has been among Jones' village board critics. In his unsuccessful mayoral run in 2009, Garner said he wanted to examine the police department because it had "issues" and that -- if elected -- he'd determine Jones' future after such a study.
Garner was particularly critical of what he termed a lack of diversity on the Gurnee police force.
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.
Village board members, at a meeting May 2, supported Kovarik's appointment of Jones to serve another year as police chief.