Fox Lake Explorers post temporarily disbanded
The youth Explorer post created and run by a disgraced former Fox Lake police officer has been temporarily disbanded because it has been "outrageously mismanaged," authorities confirmed Monday.
But at least one parent with a teen in Fox Lake Law Enforcement Explorer Post 300 said she feels let down by police and village officials who had told participants that keeping the Explorer post running was a priority.
The Explorer post, created and advised by former Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, was shut down indefinitely because it did not comply with rules established by the Boy Scouts of America, the governing body of youth police Explorer posts, officials said.
Detective Chris Covelli, a spokesman for the Fox Lake Police Department, said some rule violations included allowing unregistered youths to volunteer in the program, allowing unregistered adults to volunteer without a proper background check, and paying some youth Explorers for working volunteer parking details.
"The Fox Lake Police Department is in existence to supply police assistance and support to the community," Covelli said. "The Fox Lake police officers are working on healing after this trying time and have new responsibilities. That is their focus."
Covelli said its unknown when the post will restart. But officials said they do not intend to renew the group's charter with the Boy Scouts in 2016.
He also said the village has not yet received a $50,000 check pledged to the Explorers from Motorola during the investigation into Gliniewicz's death. Should that money come in, Covelli said, it would be returned because all Explorer financial accounts have been frozen as part of the ongoing Gliniewicz criminal investigation.
Parent Cecilia Ashbacher said village leaders told the media they were firmly behind the program early on, but that changed last week when officials told participants to turn in their equipment and uniforms.
Ashbacher also said officials told the teens money earmarked for the Explorer post was "tainted," and that speaking to the media could make future police career opportunities vanish.
"For the past several months, village representatives were stating to the press how important their Explorers meant to them and how the program was definitely going to continue," Ashbacher said in an email. "At no time were we led to believe that this closing would occur."
Officials said Gliniewicz killed himself Sept. 1 after he feared his embezzlement of funds from the Explorer post would be uncovered by village officials.
Authorities said Gliniewicz used funds obtained by the Explorer post as his "personal account." Investigators estimated more than $250,000 flowed through the Explorer account, and the amount of money taken by Gliniewicz was in the "five-figure range."
Mayor Donny Schmit said he volunteered to serve as an adviser at the Explorer post to help keep it running. However, Schmit said, the program needs police officers to assist.
"It is still a priority to keep an Explorer post, but we need to put the program on hiatus until all the investigations are complete," he said. "We need to restructure the program to meet with the Boy Scouts charter."
Covelli said the police department hopes to reopen the Explorer post at an undetermined later date with assistance from the Boy Scouts of America.
Michael Hale, Scout executive for the Northeast Illinois Council for the Boy Scouts of America serving primarily in Lake County, said he would be in favor of chartering an Explorer post in Fox Lake in the future if the post followed proper policies and procedures.
"The Fox Lake post was more military and they were doing things above and beyond the level what an Explorer post would normally do," Hale said. "If we felt like it would be a post run the way it was run under Joe (Gliniewicz), then we would not be interested in chartering another post in Fox Lake."