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Article posted: 4/29/2013 3:53 PM

Des Plaines' former acting police chief retires

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Former acting Des Plaines Police Chief Mike Kozak, who was demoted to the rank of commander in January, announced his retirement late last week, Chief William Kushner confirmed Monday.

Kozak's quiet departure after serving 25 years with the department is unrelated to the suspensions of 13 officers earlier this month for their role in a scheme to misrepresent participation in federally funded traffic enforcement campaigns, Kushner said.

Another police commander who oversaw the program is facing federal charges alleging he made false statements in reports that led to the department fraudulently receiving $132,893 in overtime reimbursements for drunken driving enforcement campaigns.

Kozak's demotion stemmed from "a need to rearrange the organization," Kushner said.

Kozak offered no explanation for his abrupt retirement in the one-line letter of resignation he submitted Thursday, Kushner added. He could not be reached for comment Monday.

The 25-year police veteran held the rank of deputy chief in December 2011 when he was promoted to acting police chief following the retirement of Chief Jim Prandini.

The department was hit with numerous scandals in the months that followed. In August, another former deputy chief said he was forced out of the department for complaining that police brutality was being ignored. That suit came about five months after one officer was fired and another suspended four months for misconduct.

Rank-and-file officers twice took votes of no confidence against Kozak, who served as acting chief until Kushner took the helm in September.

Kushner said he is unaware of whether Kozak plans to continue working in law enforcement.

"You hate to lose the institutional experience and knowledge," he added. "But at the same time, it gives you the opportunity to promote people and give them an opportunity to shine and expand their career horizons."

The first to get that opportunity will be Detective Sgt. Roy Mierzwa, who has been promoted Kozak's former commander post effective May 1.

"We continue to evaluate the organization," Kushner said. "In the meantime, we're taking a look at the changes we've already made and see how well they work."

The department still has an open sergeant's position currently being filled with an acting sergeant. A permanent promotion will be announced soon, Kushner added.

"We are two (officers) down from our budgeted strength of 96 sworn officers," he said. "We have one individual starting the (police) academy May 6. The next academy class won't be until January."

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