Howerton investigation finds minor violation, no evidence of more serious acts

Updated 4/3/2013 5:16 PM
  • Schaumburg Police Chief Brian Howerton

      Schaumburg Police Chief Brian Howerton Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

A yearlong internal investigation of retiring Schaumburg Police Chief Brian Howerton's professional conduct determined he violated village policy but found no evidence of other, more serious allegations made in a complaint by his ex-girlfriend.

The village's Office of Professional Standards found Howerton violated police department rules prohibiting visitors at police facilities for non-duty-related purposes.

In a release of the investigation's findings, corroborating witnesses are cited as evidence that Howerton's estranged ex-girlfriend, Dawn Davis of Schaumburg, was at the police station for non-duty-related reasons while they were dating.

But the investigation didn't find evidence to sustain Davis' claims Howerton stalked and harassed her while on duty and using department resources.

Howerton could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Davis' attorney, Kaci Holguin, said she and her client disagreed with some of the findings, including the final determination.

Holguin said the village had told them that it particularly difficult to find Howerton in violation of conducting personal business while on duty, as she alleged, because his flexible hours made it so he was never really off duty.

"It seemed ridiculous and backwards to me," Holguin said.

Holguin and Davis also objected to the letter summarizing the findings that characterized some of the accusations as "false," without specifying which ones.

"I think that was a step too far," Holguin said.

She and Davis will explore options for further review of the accusations, stating they don't believe justice has been done, Holguin added.

Schaumburg Village Manager Ken Fritz said he was limited in what he could say about the investigation.

"Normally we don't comment on the investigation or the findings," Fritz said. "The findings and the summary information are based on an extensive investigation and summary of the investigator."

Village officials emphasized that their "not sustained" finding on the allegations should not be interpreted as an exoneration. While there was not enough evidence to sustain a finding village policy had been violated, neither was there enough evidence to clear Howerton.

Davis claimed that Howerton had stalked and harassed her during and after their 18-month relationship, which ended just days before the complaint was filed in March 2012.

In January, the Cook County State's Attorney cleared Howerton of any criminal wrongdoing but also stopped short of exonerating him.

Both Davis and Howerton were notified of the village investigation's findings Wednesday morning.

In a written statement, Fritz said the type of policy violation Howerton was found to have committed would normally result in an oral reprimand.

"We need to hold leadership to a high standard of conduct," Fritz said. "That's why, when we became aware of the allegation, we acted promptly and appropriately to investigate these allegations. Any finding that the chief violated department rules and regulations is troubling.

"His own retirement announcement acknowledged the impact this matter has had on the department," Fritz continued. "We also acknowledge that impact and even though the allegations were not sustained, whether or not Howerton used good judgment during his relationship with Davis as it related to his position of chief could have been the basis for additional disciplinary action.

"However, in light of Howerton's departure, issuing discipline does not advance the department's goals and objectives or assist its new leadership in obtaining these goals."

Howerton will retire Friday after nearly 32 years in the department, the last four as chief. He immediately will be succeeded by Interim Police Chief Kenneth Bouche.

Bouche is a retired Illinois State Police colonel and current chief operating officer of Hillard Heintze, a law enforcement consulting firm now reviewing department operations in the wake of three undercover officers' arrests on drug conspiracy charges in January.

A search for a permanent police chief is ongoing.

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