Schaumburg officials Tuesday defended the value they believed they were getting from consultants hired to improve the police department and recruit a new chief against a public criticism of their costs.
Resident Carrie Miller argued that a $148,000 study from law enforcement consultant firm Hillard Heintze -- along with a monthly $68,900 to help operate the department through the use of its Chief Operating Officer Ken Bouche as interim police chief -- was an affront to taxpayers.
Furthermore, the village is paying another company -- Voorhees & Associates -- $25,000 to find a new permanent chief, Miller complained.
"That's our money," she told the village board. "You can't tell me there's one individual or one company that is worth that kind of money."
Miller acknowledged the police department has had a rough time with the arrest of three undercover officers on drug conspiracy charges in January and the charging of a fourth officer with misconduct in June for, authorities allege, keeping a gun turned in for disposal.
But she said such high consultant fees were a slap in the face to all the remaining officers dutifully doing their jobs.
Village Manager Ken Fritz said the police department represents about two-fifths of the village's expenses and it felt necessary to fully address this year's crises rather than just replace retiring Chief Brian Howerton.
He added that the monthly fee to Hillard Heintze pays for the full- or part-time services of six or seven people and is partly offset by vacancies.
"The department is a good department. It's always been a good department," Fritz said. "But there are things we can do to improve it."
Hillard Heintze will report on its three-month study of the department next Tuesday. A permanent chief could be named by September, but Hillard Heintze will likely continue working for the village in a reduced capacity through the end of the year, Fritz said.
Miller maintained it was still too much money to pay for such services and asked whether the village expected any more indictments of police officers.
Fritz and Mayor Al Larson said no.
"That's the reason we went this route," Larson said. "We don't want it to happen again."