Wauconda Police Chief Douglas Larsson talks about ouster
Ousted Wauconda Police Chief Douglas Larsson on Monday said he withdrew an offer to step down as chief because of the widespread support he's received from the community.
"They took dramatic steps that they wanted the chief to stay," Larsson told the Daily Herald in his first interview on the subject. "I felt that I owed it to them."
Mayor Frank Bart forced Larsson from the chief's job shortly after taking office in May. Larsson had led the department since 2009.
Officially, Larsson submitted a letter to vacate the post. He was not fired, nor did he resign. The letter set Aug. 31 as his departure date.
At a village board meeting last week, an attorney for Larsson announced the chief had withdrawn the letter.
Larsson was at that meeting but didn't speak to the board during the session.
The next day, Larsson was verbally ordered to take accrued vacation time for the rest of the month. Bart confirmed the order in an interview, saying he won't accept Larsson's change of heart.
Bart intends to unilaterally name Sgt. Patrick Yost the new police chief on a temporary basis when Larsson's employment ends.
The board was supposed to vote on Yost's nomination in early June, but it didn't after an enormous public outcry in support of retaining Larsson. Hundreds of people attended the meeting -- moved to the local high school because of the anticipated crowd -- and most supported Larsson.
Last week, Bart told the Daily Herald he's not asking village trustees to approve Yost's nomination because he doesn't have the unanimous support of the board.
Without a board vote, the appointment will be on a temporary but indefinite basis, Bart said.
As he has before, Larsson supported Bart's right to choose a new chief.
"The law is clear: The mayor has the final word on who he wants to be the police chief," said Larsson 61, of Antioch. "I would never argue with that."
Still, the two men are at odds over the issue.
Bart criticized Larsson's integrity after the chief withdrew his letter to vacate, questioning his honor.
When asked about those comments Monday, Larsson declined to respond.
Larsson is sad to leave the department, saying he's helped build "a really positive environment" for officers and the community.
"I think this department is one of the finest in the state," he said.
A cop for more than 40 years, Larsson intends to find full-time work, either in law enforcement or the private sector.
Larsson came to Wauconda after serving six years as Round Lake Beach's police chief. He previously had served in Rolling Meadows, working his way up from dispatcher to deputy chief.
"Would I like to be a chief? Yeah, because that's what I know," Larsson said. "That's what I'm good at."