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updated: 1/25/2012 10:22 AM

Bartlett mayor apologizes for yelling at police

Airdo says he was upset when friend stopped for traffic violation

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  • Michael Airdo

      Michael Airdo

 
 

Editor's note: We're attaching a PDF of the interoffice memo on the incident, but we wanted to warn you that it does contain profanities.

Michael Airdo doesn't deny police records that show he interfered with a traffic stop and yelled profanities at police officers last January.

But the acting village president of Bartlett said he's remorseful and hopes that the village can soon get back to business.

"I made a mistake and it won't happen again," Airdo said. "In this village we have a lot of things to do. The idea to be distracted because of an issue that happened over a year ago ... is really disheartening."

The confrontation was first reported in a weekly newspaper in Bartlett. About half of the residents present at last week's village board meeting appeared to be there for the issue, with some asking for Airdo's resignation because of his actions.

Trustee Greg Martin said while the incident reflects poorly on the village and the board, it "isn't inexcusable." He said news reports of Airdo's behavior are "trying to make it juicier than it was."

"When you apologize and people accept the apology then you move on," he said. "That (weekly) paper is doing this town no good after a certain point."

Martin said that if he knew the details of the incident prior to December -- when the board chose an acting village president to replace the resigning Michael Kelly -- he still would have voted for Airdo.

"He was still the better choice," he said. "I think the members of the board still have confidence in Mike Airdo."

Trustee T.L. Arends, a strong supporter of the previous mayor, said she had heard about the incident but wasn't going to comment on it.

"I want to move on and keep the village foremost in our efforts," she said.

The incident occurred in the early morning of Jan. 30, 2011, shortly after Airdo and his wife, Lori, left the Bartlett Veterans Memorial Foundation's annual black tie event. Airdo's wife serves on the board of directors for the foundation.

Airdo said he had "a couple" of drinks at the event and his wife drove them home, where they were hosting a small gathering for some of the event's attendees.

Shortly after midnight, a family friend who was invited to the gathering called Airdo's father, who had also attended the event. The friend had been pulled over by Bartlett police for improper lane usage near Railroad and Western avenues.

The friend, Airdo said, called because he was en route to the gathering.

"That's the only reason," Airdo said.

However, according to a police department interoffice memorandum acquired by the Daily Herald through a Freedom of Information Act request, the friend told police "several times (Airdo) was coming to the scene" to "clear this up."

When asked why he decided to go to the scene, Airdo said that his father had decided to go and asked if Airdo would accompany him.

"My dad was upset. He had been concerned about (our friend)," he said. "I didn't know if he had been in an accident; I didn't know what happened."

In the meantime, the friend was given a field sobriety test, which he passed, as seen in video footage from the squad car. One officer instructed the friend to return to his vehicle.

A second officer noticed that Airdo and his father had parked across the street and were walking up to the squad car of the officer who had made the traffic stop. The police interaction with Airdo wasn't captured by the video camera, but a police officer documented what happened in a report.

According to the report:

Airdo shouted to the officers, "What are you doing? He's going back to my house!"

His father shouted, "Are you OK?" to the friend as he was returning to his vehicle.

The first officer explained he was on a traffic stop and told Airdo and his father to wait across the street until he was finished. Instead, police said, the two men continued toward the officer.

The second officer asked Airdo and his father to come with him to their vehicle and that he would tell them what was going on, at which point Airdo's father yelled a profanity. Airdo's father then got into the vehicle, but Airdo remained in the street.

The second officer tried to coax Airdo to move out of the street, but he responded, "No, if I get hit by a car it's on me!"

In response to additional requests made by the officer, Airdo made defensive statements, some that included profanities.

Airdo, who had a strong odor of alcoholic beverage coming from his breath according to the report, shouted to his friend to "Just go to my house! Go to my house! Go ahead and leave!" He also tried to walk toward his friend's vehicle, and when the second officer commanded him to stop he responded, "I'm a village official, I can go anywhere!"

After a police sergeant responded to the scene and spoke with Airdo and his father, they left, reports state. The friend was given a warning.

Airdo said Monday that when he realized he was "out of bounds" he listened to police and went back to the passenger seat of the vehicle.

"I was emotional because my dad was emotional," he said. "I became upset. I said things I shouldn't had said."

Bartlett Police Chief Kent Williams said in a statement released last week that Airdo's actions were "out of character." He said Airdo sincerely apologized shortly afterward and his apology was "readily accepted by all involved parties."

"Mayor Airdo's career as a public servant has demonstrated him to be a true champion for the entire staff of the Village of Bartlett," the statement reads. "We look forward to a continued strong relationship."

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