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updated: 3/1/2013 5:28 AM

Consultant: Schaumburg PD cooperating with study

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A professional review of the Schaumburg Police Department in the wake of three officers' arrests on drug conspiracy charges is off to a flying start, though it's still too early to report any findings, the consultant in charge said Thursday.

The staff of law enforcement advisory firm Hillard Heintze has encountered encouraging candidness and cooperation in its interviews with department employees, CEO Arnette Heintze said.

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"We've been involved for eight days and our team has made great progress," Heintze said. "We're gathering a great wealth of information from this review process."

The firm co-founded by Heintze -- a retired senior executive of the U.S. Secret Service -- and former Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard began work Feb. 19 on a 90-day review of the department's operations.

Prosecutors have said the alleged conspiracy to sell illegal drugs stolen from crime scenes went no further than the three former officers charged -- Terrance O'Brien, Matthew Hudak and John Cichy. But neither the DuPage County state's attorney's office nor Heintze would comment Thursday as to whether they've discovered operational or supervisory shortcomings within the department that may have enabled the accused officers' actions.

Village officials previously said the officers' immediate supervisor was out on medical leave during at least some of the time the illegal activity is alleged to have occurred. However, they added, there was adequate supervision in place during the absence.

Schaumburg Village Manager Ken Fritz said there have been progress updates from Hillard Heintze, but the firm's findings and recommendations are not expected until the end of their 90-day evaluation.

In the meantime, Heintze said the department's employees are demonstrating deep interest in the process and seem to be sharing what's on their minds. Among the topics discussed have been communication, mentoring, staffing levels, management of criminal cases, compensation and benefits.

"We'll look into every issue that has been brought up," Heintze said.

The analysis will try to distinguish between what may be a single individual's perspective on an issue and an objective insight into the department's operations, he added.

"Our effort is really holistic," Heintze said. "We're getting perspectives and insights from individuals and smaller groups."

Representatives of the department's patrol officers' union could not be reached for comment Thursday.

O'Brien, Hudak and Cichy were arrested by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Jan. 16, just two days after the Cook County state's attorney's office cleared Schaumburg Police Chief Brian Howerton of criminal wrongdoing in connection with allegations he stalked and harassed his estranged ex-girlfriend.

Schaumburg immediately put the three charged officers on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation, but they resigned shortly thereafter. The officers, who each face multiple felony charges, also have been sued by people they'd previously arrested, and the Cook County state's attorney's office has dropped charges in several drug cases in which they were involved.

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