Island Lake releases e-mails, memos on police chief decision

Four months after they were originally sought, e-mails and memos concerning the Island Lake mayor's decision to place the acting police chief on administrative leave were released to the Daily Herald this week.

The roughly 40 pages of correspondence included the letter Mayor Debbie Herrmann sent to then-Chief Anthony Sciarrone informing him of the action, as well as subsequent exchanges between the mayor and trustees about her decision.

The Daily Herald had requested the documents under the Freedom of Information Act just days after Sciarrone was removed from his post, but the request was denied by the village because the records in question concerned employee grievances or disciplinary cases.

The Daily Herald appealed to the Illinois attorney general's public access coordinator's office, which began investigating the matter. This week, one of the village's attorneys, Julie A. Tappendorf, voluntarily released the documents to the Daily Herald, saying the e-mails no longer need to be kept private because the subject no longer is an active issue.

Sciarrone had been the village's interim police chief since 2008. Herrmann placed him on administrative leave Feb. 15 and authorized an investigation by the village's legal firm into his performance.

Herrmann refused to tell trustees, the media or the public why she was taking action against Sciarrone until the village board voted to demote him to his previous rank of sergeant on March 18.

At a board meeting that night, Herrmann said Sciarrone was demoted because he was a "poor administrator and record keeper" who failed to make himself available to subordinate officers, among other issues.

Sciarrone was replaced by Chief William McCorkle.

In the days after Sciarrone was placed on leave, the Daily Herald formally requested copies of all e-mails between the mayor and trustees concerning the move.

The documents released this week included Herrmann's initial e-mail and many subsequent e-mails from multiple trustees.

Herrmann's Feb. 15 letter to Sciarrone in which she informed him he was on leave was released, too. The letter accused him of "conduct unbecoming an officer" and ordered him to relinquish his badge and police ID.

Also turned over was a Feb. 15 e-mail from Trustee Don Saville to the other board members, Herrmann and one of the village's lawyers in which he asked why the trustees weren't "in the loop" regarding the investigation.

A long Feb. 15 e-mail Trustee John Ponio sent to Herrmann and the board requesting a special meeting be held to discuss the issue also was released.

E-mails from trustees Don Verciglio and Donna O'Malley concerning the matter were released, too.