A former part-time Island Lake police officer with political connections to village hall has been reinstated, officials confirmed Friday.
After a closed-door discussion late Thursday night, a divided board voted to rehire officer Wayne Schnell, who resigned from the department in 2010.
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Schnell didn't attend the meeting and didn't respond to interview requests.
Schnell's departure was prompted by a departmental investigation into his behavior, village documents indicate. The department, now led by a new chief, recently reinvestigated the complaints against Schnell and cleared him, Trustee Mark Beeson said.
"He was wronged, plain and simple," Beeson said Friday. "All the accusations against him were reversed."
Beeson and other trustees said they haven't seen any paperwork summarizing the most recent investigation.
In an interview Friday, Chief Don Bero said he assigned a sergeant to review Schnell's case at Schnell's request. The allegations against Schnell were unsubstantiated, he said.
Schnell, who lives in McHenry County, managed the For the People slate's political campaign in the recent municipal election. The slate consisted of Beeson, fellow trustees Keith Johns and Tony Sciarrone, Mayor Charles Amrich and Clerk Teresa Ponio.
All won overwhelmingly.
The village board voted 4-2 to reinstate Schnell as a part-time officer. Beeson, Johns, Sciarrone and Trustee Chuck Cermak voted to approve, while trustees Shannon Fox and Thea Morris opposed it.
"I just don't believe it is in the best interests of the village to hire a police officer who left the village under such controversial circumstances," Morris said Friday.
Schnell will serve as the village's code enforcement officer. He'll be paid $18 an hour for his first three months of service, Beeson said.
If Schnell's work is deemed successful at that point, his pay will increase to $20 an hour, Beeson said.
The village board was expected to reinstate a second former officer, Billy Dickerson, but trustees delayed that decision until June 27.
The details of a settlement agreement with Dickerson need to be finalized, officials said.
"We're just trying to be careful and follow the rules," Beeson said.
Dickerson, an Island Lake resident, said Friday he expects the matter should be cleared up soon.
Dickerson was fired in June 2010, village records indicate. Dickerson contends he was not properly terminated.
The summary of a closed-door meeting by the police commission that month indicate then-Chief William McCorkle wanted Dickerson fired due to "insubordination, lying about other officers (and) not backing up officers per procedure."
The commission unanimously agreed Dickerson should be fired, according to the meeting summary. However, records of the open meeting held the same day don't indicate the commission voted publicly to dismiss Dickerson, as would be required by law.
The village board voted to reinstate Dickerson in 2011. Then-Mayor Debbie Herrmann vetoed it, and the board overrode the veto, but Dickerson never rejoined the force.
After leaving the force, Dickerson was publicly critical of Herrmann and McCorkle. He actively campaigned for the For the People slate during the election, too.
Five trustees voted to put off Dickerson's reinstatement. Only Sciarrone, himself a former police officer and chief in town, opposed a delay.