Ten days before his April 5 retirement, embattled Schaumburg Police Chief Brian Howerton praised and was praised by his elected bosses Tuesday at his final village board meeting as the town's top law enforcement officer.
Howerton, who joined the force at age 20 and has been chief for the past four years, received a plaque commemorating his 32 years of service to Schaumburg.
"I want to take one moment to thank the board for their confidence in me the past four years," Howerton said.
He is stepping down in the midst of a consultant's three-month review of police department operations prompted by the January arrests of three undercover officers on drug conspiracy charges.
He also is awaiting a report detailing the village's investigation into a stalking and harassment complaint filed against him by his estranged ex-girlfriend, Dawn Davis of Schaumburg. The Cook County State's Attorney's office cleared Howerton of any criminal wrongdoing in January, only two days before the arrests of the undercover officers.
Village Manager Ken Fritz said he expects to name at least an interim chief this Friday, with the help of the law enforcement consultant agency Hillard Heintze. Deputy Chief Paul Rizzo also is scheduled to retire next week.
Trustee Frank Kozak commended Howerton on his stoic professionalism since the harassment complaint was filed nearly a year ago -- even when Davis' friends attended village board meetings to call for his removal from duty.
Howerton has declined to discuss the investigation publicly while it's still in progress. But in internal documents released by the village, Howerton called the accusations false and said his former girlfriend was seeking revenge because he ended their relationship.
Other board members also expressed gratitude for Howerton's service Tuesday.
"I think the whole board would echo what Frank (Kozak) said," Mayor Al Larson said. "You've been through a lot of turmoil."
"Would you like to reconsider your retirement?" Trustee Mark Madej asked.
Howerton, 52, said Wednesday he would like to continue to work in some law enforcement capacity, but the details are still vague.
"I'm still trying to sort this out," he said. "I want to spend some time with my kids and my new puppy I got in December. It was just my love of Schaumburg that kept me here. Most people hang it up after 30 years."
Fritz said a separation agreement with Howerton is being worked out, but hasn't been completed.