After months of public controversy, Wauconda has a new police chief.
Veteran officer Patrick Yost, who most recently had been a sergeant with the department, took the oath of office in relative privacy Saturday at village hall. Village Clerk Gina Strelecki administered the oath as Mayor Frank Bart and a few police officers observed.
Contact information ( * required )
The ceremony was not announced publicly, and no trustees attended. Word leaked out over the weekend and spread over social media.
Yost replaces Douglas Larsson as the town's top cop. Bart forced out Larsson as chief after four years despite strong public opposition to the move.
Bart initially proposed promoting Yost in June, but the move was delayed because of the community outcry.
Under state law, mayors nominate police chief candidates, but municipal boards make the actual decision.
Because the board hasn't voted on Yost's promotion, technically it's a temporary appointment.
"It's a vacancy that's being filled," village attorney Rudy Magna said during Tuesday's village board meeting.
Yost took the oath Saturday because Larsson's departure was effective that day, Bart said.
"(It was) so we didn't have a lapse in command," Bart said at the board meeting.
Additionally, Tom Bender was sworn in Saturday as the department's newest deputy chief. He most recently had been a sergeant.
The two previous deputy chiefs, Ted Hennessy and John Thibault, have been demoted to sergeant, Bart said.
Bender will be the only deputy chief, Bart said.
Both Yost and Bender repeated their oaths during Tuesday's meeting. They stood with a dozen or so staffers and volunteers who took oaths for their jobs.
Bart introduced Yost and Bender to the crowd after the oaths were said Tuesday. The audience applauded, and then they left.
Toward the end of the meeting, audience members peppered Bart with questions about Yost's appointment and the process. Although he expressed frustration at times, Bart addressed every concern.