Schaumburg Police Chief Brian Howerton announced his retirement Tuesday, exactly one month after the village hired a consulting firm to review his department in the wake of three undercover officers' arrests on drug conspiracy charges.
The announcement comes about two months after officers Terrance O'Brien, Matthew Hudak and John Cichy were charged with trying to sell illegal drugs they'd seized from crime scenes. Their Jan. 16 arrests came only two days after the Cook County State's Attorney's office cleared Howerton of criminal wrongdoing in connection with an ex-girlfriend's complaint he harassed and stalked her.
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In a letter to department employees announcing his retirement effective April 5, Howerton wrote that while there is never a good time to leave an organization one loves, there usually is a right time.
"As a result of the false accusations, I realize that overcoming the damage done may not be in the best interest of all," he wrote. "I fully commit to assisting both the village and the men and women of the Schaumburg Police Department in any way I can during this transition."
Howerton could not be immediately reached for further comment.
Village Manager Ken Fritz issued a statement thanking Howerton for 32 years of service to the department and for his assistance through the coming transition.
"Chief Howerton expressed his feeling to me that now is a good time to bring in new leadership, new ideas and fresh perspectives on how the village delivers vital public safety services to our community," Fritz wrote.
The village's internal investigation of Howerton's professional conduct related to his former girlfriend's claims will be completed shortly, Fritz said.
Mayor Al Larson said the community should be thankful for the strong commitment Howerton gave
Schaumburg for more than 30 years.
"I think Brian has given us a huge part of his life and done a superb job as police chief," Larson said.
Representatives of Schaumburg's patrol officers' union declined to comment on Howerton's retirement.
Last month the village hired Hillard Heintze, a consulting firm headed by former Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard and former U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Arnette Heintz, to conduct a review of the department. The review is expected to take three months to complete.
The firm also is expected to assist in the appointment of an interim director of the police department to take over for Howerton April 5, Fritz said.
As to whether there was any relationship between Howerton's retirement and the firm's work, CEO Arnette Heintze would say only that the firm is still gathering information and that recommendations remain about two months off.
"We're taking a very exhaustive approach," Heintze said.
Though no separation agreement yet exists between the village and Howerton, one likely will be drafted before April 5, Fritz added. He said the agreements are standard procedure, ensuring the payout of benefits and that former employees will continue to be indemnified by the village in future or pending lawsuits.
Howerton's salary income last year came out to $150,263, according to records posted on the village of Schaumburg's website.