Deputy chief becomes Gurnee's top cop
Gurnee Deputy Police Chief Kevin Woodside was elevated to the top job at a village board meeting Monday night.
Trustees voted 6-0 to ratify Mayor Kristina Kovarik's appointment of Woodside as police chief. Detective Cmdr. Jim Caldwell was promoted to deputy chief, also by a 6-0 village board tally backing Kovarik's pick.
At least 75 police employees, friends and family gave Woodside rousing applause and a 30-second standing ovation after he was administered the oath of office by Village Attorney Bryan Winter. Kovarik praised Woodside for his knowledge of Gurnee and administrative skills.
"I take this responsibility very seriously," said Woodside, 47.
Gurnee crime prevention technician Tom Agos has known Woodside since 1985, when the men started their careers as community service officers at the Mount Prospect Police Department. He said Woodside cares about all officers and support personnel as well as the community.
"I think the No. 1 thing about Kevin is his unshakable integrity," Agos said as Gurnee's finest milled outside the village board chambers after the swearing-in of Woodside and Caldwell.
Woodside has been Gurnee's acting police chief since September. He was appointed to that post after the village board approved a $139,000 "retirement/separation" package for Police Chief Robert Jones.
Jones' deal came in the wake of his being on administrative leave with pay from mid-July to September after unspecified employee complaints led to an investigation of his conduct by a Chicago law firm hired by the village.
Male and female employees accused Jones of "core employee handbook" violations, but nothing of a criminal nature, according to the mayor. Jones became Gurnee's top cop in 1994 after a 26-year career at the Elmhurst Police Department.
Kovarik complimented the police employees for their visible support of Woodside and Caldwell at Monday's meeting. She also alluded to the Jones controversy.
"Never once did any of you let up," she told the employees, "giving a thousand percent to the community every day."
Former Mayor Donald Rudny appointed Woodside as deputy police chief in 2004.
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