Revelations about Don Bero’s 1998 arrest for aggravated assault won’t alter Island Lake Mayor-elect Charles Amrich’s plans to nominate the former police officer as the town’s next chief.
“It doesn’t change my opinion whatsoever,” Amrich said Wednesday.
But the 15-year-old arrest has raised concerns for several of the trustees who’ll be asked to approve Bero’s appointment Thursday night.
“I do find it disconcerting that an individual with a history of aggravated assault is being recommended for police chief,” Trustee Thea Morris said.
Added Trustee Chuck Cermak: “He’s going to have to come to the board and explain it.”
Bero, 65, of Wauconda, was Island Lake’s top cop from 2003 to 2005, years after the arrest. Bero said the case, which police confirmed has been expunged from his record, is “over and done with.”
“For the past 15 years, I’ve thought nothing of it,” he said.
Still, Bero said he’d answer questions about the matter if trustees ask about it.
Bero was Island Lake’s police chief during the last two years of Amrich’s first stint as mayor. He previously had worked as a police officer in West suburban Broadview and as a part-time officer and code enforcement officer in Island Lake.
After leaving the Island Lake Police Department, Bero worked as a process server for the McHenry County sheriff’s office. He held that job until retiring this past March.
Bero was arrested in April 1998 and charged with misdemeanor aggravated assault following a confrontation near his Wauconda home, according to a police report given to the Daily Herald. Then 49 years old, he had not yet begun working for the Island Lake Police Department.
Bero was accused of pointing a handgun at two men selling meat in the neighborhood. The victims said the gunman showed them a badge, too.
When questioned by police, Bero claimed the gun was a pellet gun and turned over that weapon to investigators, reports said. He also showed investigators his retired Broadview police badge.
The victims described the gun they saw as a snub-nosed black revolver, reports indicated, but such a weapon wasn’t recovered.
Bero told investigators he confronted the men because he believed they were “casing his residence for a home invasion,” according to the police report.
He told the Daily Herald he was sentenced to supervision when the case went to court.
Bero is slated to replace William McCorkle as Island Lake’s police chief. McCorkle resigned effective Thursday, before a promised firing by Amrich.
Amrich, who defeated incumbent Mayor Debbie Herrmann last month after an exceptionally ugly campaign, will be sworn in today. Three new trustees and a new clerk — all Amrich running mates — will take office, too.
Amrich said he has “absolutely no qualms” about recommending Bero for the job.
Under the law, the village board must ratify the nomination.
Cermak said the 1998 arrest could affect his vote.
“I’m going to look into it,” he said.
In addition to her concerns about Bero’s arrest, Morris complained she’s been given no information about Bero’s work history or his proposed employment contract despite requests.
Trustee Shannon Fox said she hasn’t received any information from Amrich about Bero or the new law firm nominated to represent the village in legal matters.
“I don’t know how we’re supposed to vote on these matters with no materials having been supplied,” Fox said.
Trustee-elect Keith Johns, who ran with Amrich, said he plans to vote for Bero and stands “100 percent” behind the veteran cop. Johns called the 1998 arrest a “nonissue.”
Trustee-elect Mark Beeson, another Amrich ally, said he plans to talk with Bero about the arrest. Referring to the police report that was leaked to the media, Beeson said, “Apparently the dirty politics of Island Lake carry on.”
The village board is set to gather for a public hearing and a regular meeting at 7 p.m. today at village hall, 3720 Greenleaf Ave. Amrich and the other new elected officials will be sworn in during a second session scheduled for 8 p.m.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.