New Wauconda police chief Yost addresses controversy

Now two weeks into his tenure as Wauconda's police chief, Patrick Yost acknowledged the leadership change was unusually dramatic.

Yost, 48, of Wauconda, replaced Douglas Larsson as the town's top cop. After Mayor Frank Bart announced his intent to force out Larsson and appoint Yost this spring, residents packed meetings to voice their outrage.

Some launched a “keep the chief” campaign. Larsson even briefly tried fighting his dismissal — but the efforts were in vain.

Yost, most recently a sergeant with the department, was sworn in as chief Aug. 31, the same day Larsson left. The controversy has died down since.

“I think the focus was mainly on Doug Larsson leaving,” Yost said in an email interview with the Daily Herald. “Consequently, this change of command has been more dramatic than those I've seen over the years.”

Raised in Gurnee, Yost became a cop at 19, first serving in the U.S. Army military police.

He later worked at the Gurnee and Grayslake police departments, first as a dispatcher, before joining the Wauconda Police Department in 1989.

Yost rose to deputy chief in 2005 before returning to the rank of sergeant in 2010.

Larsson had been chief since 2009. Bart said he wanted Larsson gone to cut costs.

Bart said Yost was his first choice for the job because of his reputation for integrity. Bart also said Yost is respected by the department's officers, having served 16 years on the pension board.

“I think it's clear the officers in his department trust him, and I trust him,” Bart said.

Some critics in the community accused Yost of campaigning for Bart ahead of the April election, saying he got the chief's job as a result. Yost insisted that isn't true.

“I did not campaign for the mayor,” he said. “I did not donate money to his campaign. I was not promised the chief's job if he won.”

Officially, Yost is Wauconda's interim police chief. The stipulation is necessary because the village board did not vote on the appointment.

Rather, Bart promoted Yost to fill in after Larsson's departure. He withdrew plans to properly nominate Yost for the job this summer, saying he only wanted unanimous support from the board.

Bart has no plans to seek a different, more permanent leader for the department. He doesn't plan to ask the board to vote on Yost's appointment, either.

“There's no need to now,” Bart said. “For practical purposes in the village, there's no difference.”

Despite the procedural end run, village trustees have said they'll support Yost.

The “interim” label and the lack of a board vote don't seem to bother the new chief.

“I have been appointed to several positions within the department, and in my capacity at each position I always gave my utmost, knowing (they) were provisional,” Yost said.

Now that he's chief, one issue Yost must tackle is drug abuse, particularly heroin and the overdose deaths that have been plaguing the region.

Yost said the department is partnering with countywide groups and programs and researching grant opportunities with the federal Drug Free Communities Support Program.

“On a more personal level, we are actively communicating with the parents, students and teachers of our great school district and its leaders,” he said.

As for other goals, Yost said he wants to launch programs to develop and enhance employee performance, such as leadership training programs.

Maintaining high levels of employee morale and community confidence are among his long-term goals.

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