Editorial: Fox Lake should seek an outside investigation of police
It's time for Fox Lake to admit it needs some help.
As became clear Wednesday, Fox Lake City Administrator Anne Marrin has done her job and more.
She persisted with her investigation of the missing Fox Lake Police Department Explorer's Post funds -- however tragic the consequences of her investigation, and however dangerous the undertaking may unknowingly have been for her.
As the sad, grimy story of Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz's death has unspooled the last few days, state and federal investigators are working to identify other potential suspects involved in the theft of "five figures" worth of funds from the Explorers.
But Fox Lake has a much deeper problem, one that won't be solved by more arrests. It is a fundamental problem at the very credibility of its police department, and Fox Lake leaders must commit wholeheartedly to eradicating it.
Let's recap: The police department has no chief. In August Chief Michael Behan and another officer were put on administrative leave as the village investigated a confrontation between the officer and a suspect last December. Shortly thereafter, Behan retired.
On Sept. 1, Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz shot and killed himself in what authorities called an elaborately staged suicide, designed to cover up seven years' worth of thefts from the Explorer Post he ran. He used the money for personal expenses, investigators say.
How could this happen? How could Gliniewicz have gotten this far, and gotten in so deep without anyone in the department knowing or suspecting?
More to the point at hand, how can the Fox Lake Police Department ever regain the trust of its citizenry?
Marrin is obviously no pushover, but she can't do this by herself. The city needs someone from the outside to help her -- someone to study the police department structure, and then recommend how the department can once again become a transparent, accountable organization.
When three of its Special Investigations Bureau officers were found to be corrupt in 2013, the village of Schaumburg had its own crisis of confidence in the police department.
The village quickly hired an outside consultant, Hillard Heintze, which, working freely, determined the insular nature of the undercover vice unit had created a vacuum of leadership wherein these three cops could run amok, and did.
The consultant recommended significant changes to department hierarchy and oversight, which the village adopted. The level of public mistrust in the Schaumburg department, instead of remaining high for years, has improved more swiftly.
Fox Lake owes a similar opportunity to Marrin, to the new chief it is trying to hire, to the rest of the police department and overall, to its citizens.