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Darien camera investigation could end Wednesday

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ANN MARIE AMES
February 24, 2009
— Darien residents and village board members might get some answers Wednesday night.

The board plans to meet in closed session at 7 p.m. Attorneys hired by the village might share the results of an investigation into hidden cameras found Dec. 1 in the police department.


Police Chief Steve DeVoy was suspended shortly after employees found the cameras. He remains suspended with pay.


DeVoy maintains that he’s never been told why he was suspended, and village officials and employees have not spoken publicly about the issue.


The letter of suspension, which DeVoy found taped to his office door the night of Dec. 1, states, “This is to advise you that some video device was discovered in a plant on top of (municipal and police clerk) Peggy Moran’s desk. This matter is of grave concern.”


The letter states DeVoy was to be suspended with pay until the village board could review the matter.


DeVoy’s attorney said the chief is prepared to sue the village if the board doesn’t let DeVoy get back to work soon.


Village attorney David Danz said he doesn’t know if the board will take action Wednesday.


Here’s the story so far according to interviews and documents obtained by The Janesville Gazette through the Wisconsin Open Records Law:


n October: DeVoy sends a memo to his officers and village board members that, among other things, prohibits anyone from entering “unauthorized areas” of the police department without DeVoy’s permission.


-- Nov. 19: The village board issues six directives to DeVoy, including instructions to provide to village administration each week police officers’ daily log sheets.


A board has a right to see such information as a management tool, Danz said.


“This is the way you begin to supervise a supervisor,” he said.


While he is gathering the records, DeVoy finds sticky notes and other indications someone had been through the files, he said.


DeVoy goes to the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office for advice.


-- Nov. 22: Sheriff’s investigators install cameras in the village police department, DeVoy said.


DeVoy said he was the only department member aware of the installation.


Tom Halloran, an Oconomowoc attorney hired by DeVoy, said the Darien Police Department had its own surveillance equipment and DeVoy could have done the surveillance himself.


DeVoy didn’t go to the sheriff’s office with the intent of installing cameras, Halloran said. Rather, he was looking for advice because he was concerned someone might have seen confidential records, Halloran said.


DeVoy said he’s not seen the results of the surveillance and has no indication of what the cameras recorded.


-- Dec. 1: This is the due date the board had set in its list of directives to DeVoy, and he gives Village Administrator Marc Dennison more than 700 documents, DeVoy said.


Just before 7 p.m., DeVoy goes to the village hall for a public hearing. When he gets there, he finds his office boarded up and the door covered in caution tape.


Metzner then informs DeVoy that he is suspended, and DeVoy is escorted out of the building.


Sheriff’s deputies are called to village hall to keep the peace that night.


-- Dec. 2: The village board unanimously votes to suspend DeVoy. The matter has been under investigation since.


-- Feb. 16: Board members Craig McCue and Allen Kenyon plan to move to re-instate DeVoy, but Metzner says it is a personnel matter that cannot be discussed in an open meeting. No one makes a motion, and the board moves on with other business.


The 700 plus documents DeVoy turned in Dec. 1 still sit in Danz’ office, unread by the board, Danz said. He suspects that if the cameras hadn’t been found, the board would have gone on to make other directives.


The first six were part of a list of 25 the board had come up with, Danz said. He advised the board to work together to make reasonable records requests and reasonable directives.


“They were well on their way,” Danz said. “But the day the first request was due was the day they also discovered the cameras.”



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