Schaumburg reopens investigation of police chief
Impatient that the Illinois State Police investigation has not yet been concluded, Schaumburg officials have restarted an internal investigation into a complaint against Police Chief Brian Howerton filed by his ex-girlfriend.
"We felt it wasn't appropriate to wait any longer, both for the complainant and the chief," Schaumburg Village Manager Ken Fritz said. "We think it's fair to both parties to move on."
The complaint filed in March by Dawn Davis of Schaumburg claims Howerton exhibited harassing and intimidating behavior toward her, before and after they were dating, that represented an abuse of his authority as police chief, her attorney Kaci Holguin said.
The complaint filed is not of a criminal nature.
In an interview with CBS 2 reporter Pam Zekman broadcast Monday night, Davis stated that she was fired from her job at a home health care agency by her boss, whom she'd previously dated, because of constant, disruptive calls from Howerton on her work phone.
Davis told Zekman that when she tried to ignore the calls, Howerton became infuriated and made death threats to her.
"He said he would run my body through a woodchipper, but then that would leave too much DNA evidence," Davis said.
When she told Howerton she'd never heard such a "sick" comment before, he laughed it off as "cop humor," she told Zekman.
Howerton said he cannot comment because of the pending investigations. He remains on the job as Schaumburg's police chief.
A written statement released by the village Monday said, "After four months of interviews and investigation by the (state police) and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, there has been no indication that any of the allegations made by the complainant has been substantiated."
Holguin said it's premature for the village to say the state police investigation has reached any conclusions, pointing out there is also no indication that Howerton has been exonerated.
Davis' complaint was filed just a few days after the relationship ended, Holguin said. She declined to be more specific but said Davis has been urging the village to continue and complete its own investigation all along.
"There's been no lack of cooperation on her part," Holguin said. "There's definitely a level of frustration on her part. How long can (village officials) keep it pending by not investigating it?"
Fritz said the village's Office of Professional Standards has the authority to investigate whether employees adhered to proper procedure in the performance of their jobs. But state police are requested to investigate as well whenever there is even a possibility of a criminal charge resulting, he added.
Illinois State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said state police have sent the results of their investigation to the Cook County state's attorney's office, where they are awaiting review.
The state's attorney's office declined comment Tuesday on the expected time frame of its review.
Fritz believes it's been at least a couple of months since an assistant state's attorney received the case from the state police. Neither the state police or the state's attorney's office have said when they expect to release their findings.
He added that the village faces the same constraints as Howerton in commenting on the allegations themselves while investigations are in progress.
"It's all right for them to comment on the allegations," Fritz said of Davis and her attorney, "but it's not appropriate for us to comment." The village's statement says Howerton — a 31-year member of the police department and its chief since 2009 — has the full confidence of the administration and village board "unless and until any allegations of wrongdoing are substantiated."
"To date, the complainant has not been forthcoming with the identity of individuals with personal knowledge of the allegations asserted," the statement reads. "Further, the village encourages anyone with fact-based information about these allegations to come forward. As is always the case, witnesses's rights will be fully protected under state and federal statutes."
Holguin said Davis did have to cancel one recent interview with the village due to a conflict but believed the investigation was to continue this week.
Village officials said their Office of Professional Standards had previously held off on its inquiry so as not to impede the progress of state police's parallel investigation. But the village's internal investigation is resuming with the understanding that state police's efforts are nearly complete.
"We thought it didn't make sense to talk to the same witnesses twice," Fritz said. "It was originally well intentioned to work with the Illinois State Police and we felt it would be wrapped up fairly quickly."
Fritz noted state police have had much to do the past several months, including some major cases and responsibilities stemming from the summer's NATO summit in Chicago.
"We're disappointed with that, but we understand it," he said.
The complaint under investigation is the only one the village has received about Howerton during his career, Fritz said.
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