Janesville48.7°

Darien to consider officer’s status

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ANN MARIE AMES
June 12, 2009
— The Darien Village Board on Monday could have a chance to overturn a decision the previous board made about the village’s police department.

The board Monday could put officer Craig Konopski back onto the village’s part-time officer call list.


The board voted April 20 to remove Konopski from the list because of his participation in a large exchange of e-mails and other documents found during an investigation of the Darien Police Department computers.


The documents are part of an investigation that led the board to fire Police Chief Steve DeVoy on March 7.


After the board removed Konopski from the call list, it was brought to village officials’ attention Konopski was in training with the National Guard when he was taken off the list.


As a guardsman, Konopski’s job is protected by law, retired U.S. Marine Terry Race said. Specifically, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act protects the jobs of men and women who serve in the National Guard or in the armed forces reserves, Race said.


Race volunteers as an ombudsman through the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a volunteer advocacy group for guardsmen and reservists. Race would not say whether he worked on Konopski’s case with the village of Darien.


Konopski said he was in National Guard training March 9 through May 1.


Konopski hasn’t been called to work any shifts for the Darien Police Department since before December, Administrator Marc Dennison said.


The village was not aware Konopski was a guardsman when he was taken off the call list, village attorney David Danz said. Konopski was a part-time officer and not covered by the Wisconsin Professional Police Association contract with the village, Danz said.


In Darien, the head of the police department calls officers on the list when full-time officers can’t cover all the scheduled shifts, Dennison said.


Konopski said the village has not told him why he was terminated.


“There was no cause to fire me,” Konopski said. “They simply want to get rid of me because I’m a DeVoy supporter.”


Konopski also is employed by the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff David Graves in April used the Wisconsin Open Records Law to request copies of documents from the Darien Police Department investigation.


Graves has gotten the records and still is investigating the situation, he said. He expects he will decide within a few weeks whether Konopski will be disciplined.


Removing Konopski on April 20 from the call list was one of the last actions taken by the former board. The board made the decision on a 5-2 split.


Former board member Allen Kenyon voted against firing Konopski, and board member Craig McCue abstained.


McCue and Kenyon earlier in the year also voted against firing DeVoy.


After the April meeting where Konopski was fired, three new board members and McCue took oaths of office.


The village board meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday at the Darien Village Hall, 24 Wisconsin St, Darien.


The chief’s status

DeVoy’s employment status also is awaiting action, but not from the village board.


The village has scheduled a weeklong termination hearing. To oversee the hearing, the village his hired Scott Herrick, who among other things is an attorney for the Madison Police and Fire Commission. The hearing will start July 20 at the Darien Senior Center, 47 Park St., Darien.


DeVoy on Dec. 1 was suspended with pay when village employees found surveillance cameras in the police department.


Among other things, DeVoy was fired for installing the cameras without proper authority.


While studying the cameras, investigators found thousands of e-mails and other documents on police department computers.


Some of the e-mails were obscene or racist, and the collection shows that DeVoy spent a lot of time not working while he was at work, investigators have said.



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