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updated: 9/13/2011 1:48 PM

Gurnee police chief forced to retire after complaints

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  • Robert Jones said last month he expected an investigation into complaints against him would come out in his favor and he would continue as police chief. But the village board voted to let him go Monday.

      Robert Jones said last month he expected an investigation into complaints against him would come out in his favor and he would continue as police chief. But the village board voted to let him go Monday.

 
 

Gurnee Police Chief Robert Jones' 17-year tenure ended Monday with the village board's approval of a "retirement/separation agreement" with him.

Village trustees voted 4-2 in favor of the agreement after a closed-door session. Jones had been on administrative leave with pay since mid-July because of employee complaints that were formally lodged with Village Administrator James Hayner.

Terms of the agreement with Jones were not immediately revealed. Jones' retirement is effective Thursday.

"Absolutely wish him the best of luck," Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik said.

Trustees Steve Park, Jeanne Balmes, Hank Schwarz and Cheryl Ross voted in favor of the retirement/separation agreement, which includes a general release of claims by Jones. Trustees Greg Garner and Kirk Morris dissented.

Jones, who didn't attend Monday's meeting, had been off the job with pay since July 14. A Chicago labor law firm with no ties to Gurnee was hired to investigate the internal accusations against Jones and issued a report, officials said.

Last month, Jones told the Daily Herald he expected the investigation would be in his favor and he would return to work as police chief.

Kovarik said male and female police department employees filed the complaints against Jones. She said the accusations didn't go back more than 12 months.

Per standard operating procedure, the complaints about Jones were lodged with 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 probe.

Garner has been among Jones' village board critics. In his unsuccessful mayoral run in 2009, 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.

By a 6-0 village board vote, Kevin Woodside was appointed interim police chief. Woodside has been a deputy chief.

Jones worked 26 years for the Elmhurst Police Department before becoming Gurnee's top cop in August 1994.

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