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updated: 6/18/2012 6:40 AM

Accused Grayslake top cop to stay on payroll till July 1

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  • Matthew  McCutcheon

      Matthew McCutcheon

  • Rhett Taylor

      Rhett Taylor


Matthew McCutcheon has been on the public payroll for more than two months since informing Grayslake's mayor in April he intended to resign as police chief after Wisconsin authorities accused him of causing an alcohol-related crash.

In a letter obtained through a Daily Herald Freedom of Information Act request, McCutcheon wrote that his resignation is effective July 1. Officials said he's been on paid administrative leave since April 6 and must assist Acting Police Chief Jack McKeever in any administrative duties if called upon.

Grayslake Mayor Rhett Taylor said the issue was complicated because while McCutcheon's appointment as police chief was ratified through a village board vote, he held the rank of sergeant all along. He noted state law requires employment matters for officers to be handled by a police commission.

Taylor said McCutcheon's delayed resignation was the best for both sides because he had the right to remain as sergeant unless the village made an effort to dismiss him through a potentially time-consuming police commission hearing. McCutcheon's resignation as chief meant he couldn't remain as sergeant, Taylor said.

McCutcheon won't receive severance pay or unemployment when the resignation kicks in July 1, Taylor said. He said a formal separation agreement is nearing completion for McCutcheon, who became top cop in February.

If McCutcheon had wound up staying with the department as a sergeant, said Taylor, it could have become a difficult working situation with whoever becomes the new chief.

"This allows us to move forward with a clean separation and avoid the police commission process," Taylor said.

Grayslake records show McCutcheon is on pace to collect $29,458 for paid leave until his resignation becomes official. The $29,458 projection is based on the average of McCutcheon's pay every two weeks from April 18 to May 30, which has varied.

Village records indicate McCutcheon, who didn't return a message seeking comment, was working without a contract and had a $125,000 base salary for the current budget year.

Trustee Shawn Vogel said officials had to keep in mind McCutcheon's rights under state employment law and the costs of a hearing with the police commission.

"As someone who works in business as well, I don't want to deny someone their due process," Vogel said.

Kenosha County police said McCutcheon, 46, of Fox Lake, was drunk when he caused a crash with another vehicle about 10:10 p.m. March 30 just over the border near Silver Lake, Wis. McCutcheon has pleaded not guilty to charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and operating left of centerline.

No one was injured in the collision. Authorities said McCutcheon was swaying, smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot eyes when they interviewed him after the crash.

McCutcheon wrote in the early April resignation letter he didn't believe he could provide effective leadership Grayslake residents deserve with the charges pending against him.

"Throughout my 23-year career in law enforcement, I have always held myself to the highest standards of professionalism and integrity. I am proud of my accomplishments as a law-enforcement professional.

"I accept full responsibility for my own actions, and I hope that all who read this will realize the serious risk to public safety that impaired motorists present. As a law-enforcement officer, I have always stressed the importance of enforcement of the laws relating to the use of alcohol and operation of motor vehicles."

Taylor said Grayslake three candidates are in the hunt to replace McCutcheon. He said interviews with the finalists were scheduled for Saturday's closed-door village board meeting.

"I'm hopeful I'll have an appointment in July, if not July 1," he said.

After starting his career with the Country Club Hills Police Department in 1989, McCutcheon joined Grayslake in 1991. He moved up to sergeant in 1994 and operations commander in 1998. Grayslake village board members affirmed Taylor's appointment of McCutcheon as interim chief after Larry Herzog's retirement in July 2011. McCutcheon was among an initial field of about a dozen police chief candidates identified by a consultant before he was appointed Feb. 7.

"I want to thank Mayor Taylor and the board for the opportunity to lead such an outstanding group of dedicated law-enforcement professionals who serve the citizens of Grayslake," McCutcheon said in his letter. "I thank all the members of the department for their support and encourage them to continue to provide the citizens of Grayslake with outstanding police service."

McCutcheon received the Lake County Valor Award in 1994. He was recognized for rescuing an unconscious woman from a burning building and locating a drug overdose victim after following her tracks in a January snow in separate incidents.

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