Did Lake Co. sheriff chief quit or get fired?
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Lake County sheriff's office Chief Wayne Hunter has resigned in the wake of an internal memo that reiterated how the top brass are supposed to work as equals, according to his boss.
But the version from Sheriff Mark Curran is not what happened, according to Hunter.
"Mark Curran decided to end my relationship with the sheriff's office," Hunter said in an email. "Irrespective of whatever propaganda is floated in response to this decision, please know there is no justification whatsoever for this. My work record, my personal life and my professional accomplishments speak for themselves."
Curran said Hunter, who had a $139,000 annual base salary, sent an email Tuesday in response to the sheriff's memo. Curran characterized Hunter's email as "gross insubordination."
"I clearly characterize that letter (from Hunter) as a resignation," Curran said Wednesday.
Curran said Hunter, an at-will employee, was one of four top-ranking chiefs at the sheriff's office who are considered equals. Curran said it was believed Hunter strayed outside the chain of command when underlings came to him and that it became necessary to send Tuesday's memo reiterating the four chiefs are equal as superiors.
Hunter was promoted to chief of administration for Curran in December 2010. He had been deputy chief for administration.
In 2003, Hunter retired after 22 years with the Waukegan Police Department. His law-enforcement experience also includes serving with a regional task force under command of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration in Chicago.
While the bulk of the first stage of his career was spent in undercover drug-crime investigations, Hunter went on to serve a residency as a clinical psychologist.
Hunter eventually returned to law enforcement full time by becoming part of Curran's administration as director of homeland security for the sheriff's office.
Among the honors received by Hunter was the Liberty Bell Award from Lake County's chief judge in 2008. Hunter was praised for his diverse careers in law enforcement and psychology.
John Byrne, a 25-year employee at the sheriff's office, has been promoted to take Hunter's chief position. The other three chiefs at the sheriff's office are Brian Keller, Megan Mercado and Jennifer Witherspoon.
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