Fox Lake OKs yearlong contract for interim police chief
Fox Lake village board members have approved a one-year contract for an interim police chief.
Trustees at a meeting Tuesday night approved the deal for Russell Laine, former top cop in Algonquin and Bartlett.
Mayor Donny Schmit said the formalities of appointing and swearing in Laine must occur for everything to become official. Schmit said the actions are expected at a special meeting, possibly Friday or early next week.
Laine will receive $120,000 to lead Fox Lake police for the year. He said he visited the department to meet employees for the first time Monday and again Tuesday.
"Anytime there's a new boss in, there's always interest," said Laine, an Elgin resident. "I was very well-received. Everybody's been very hospitable and wanting to share information with me. So I think it's all positive."
When Laine officially comes aboard in Fox Lake, interim chief Mike Keller will return to the Lake County sheriff's office.
Laine will step into a department turned upside down by what turned out to be the suicide of Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, who staged his death to look like a murder to cover up years of theft from a police youth program, according to the Lake County Major Crime Task Force.
Schmit said Laine will steer the police department in a positive direction.
"We had the events that occurred with Lt. Gliniewicz," Schmit said. "Every day, it seemed like something new was hitting us in the face. Our town responded. It showed the best out of our town. It showed what kind of a community we are, that we came together for a cause and we stuck together when things didn't turn out exactly what we had thought they were.
"I welcome our new police chief, chief Laine. This is going to be a tremendous help to us moving forward. We found out some things needed to be fixed, so we're going to fix them."
Gliniewicz was not the only stain on Fox Lake police last year.
Former Chief Michael Behan was placed on paid leave in late August during an investigation into a December 2014 altercation between police and an intoxicated prisoner in a Fox Lake jail cell. Behan retired while on leave, less than two weeks before Gliniewicz's death.
Three Fox Lake police officers later were suspended for their roles in the jail confrontation, while a fourth cop has been placed on paid administrative leave, pending an FBI investigation, authorities said. No criminal charges have been filed, nor has there been a lawsuit against the village in connection with the matter.
Moreover, a village investigation into the department that occurred last year revealed serious administrative problems, including a lack of basic communication, officials have said.
Fox Lake officials began a search in August to replace Behan, then postponed naming a successor after leaders determined veteran interim leadership is needed to reform the department.
Laine was Algonquin's chief from 1985 until retiring in 2014. He served as Bartlett chief for one year and three years as top cop in Edgerton, Wisconsin, before landing in Algonquin.
In 2007, Laine earned the Law Enforcement Recognition award from the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, and he helped introduce the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics in Algonquin and McHenry County. He has also lectured nationally and internationally on topics such as police ethics.
Laine declined to get into specifics about what he hopes to do in Fox Lake until the village board confirms his appointment and he's sworn in.
"We're going to look at just the operations of the department and the way we do business and look to the future," he said.