Janesville22.1°

Darien settles with police chief

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ANN MARIE AMES
November 11, 2009
— After 11 long, bitter months, the Darien Village Board on Tuesday reached a settlement with suspended Police Chief Steve DeVoy.

The offer is designed to help DeVoy move forward to find new employment, village attorney Mark Hazelbaker said.


The board met in closed session for more than three hours Wednesday, and in open session voted 4-2 to accept the offer crafted by attorneys for both sides.


The settlement is not finalized because hearing officer Scott Herrick must approve it, Hazelbaker said. Hazelbaker would not share details about the offer and reminded board members not to speak about it.


But generally, he said the terms call for the chief to be reinstated, and then tender his resignation. DeVoy will stay on the village payroll for a stated period of time and be paid a severance package, Hazelbaker said.


“It has been an extremely difficult time in the village’s history,” Hazelbaker said. “I think it’s time for Chief DeVoy to move forward and allow the village to move forward.”


The settlement comes just days before a scheduled hearing in which Herrick could have upheld or overturned the board’s decision in March to fire the chief.


The village board has held a series of closed-session meetings about the matter since before the April elections. On Tuesday, the board met in a library conference room while members of the public waited in the foyer of the library. DeVoy and his attorney huddled among the bookshelves to talk.


This is the second time DeVoy has been invited to a board meeting since he was suspended. The last time was in August when the two sides talked about a possible settlement.


DeVoy has not worked in the village since December when he was suspended with pay after employees found surveillance cameras in the police department.


The situation has caused a divide in the small village in western Walworth County. Board meetings have commonly included arguments among elected officials and members of the audience.


Split board votes have been common throughout the matter. On Tuesday, President Evelyn Etten and board member Debi Olmstead voted against the settlement. Board members Jim Abbot, Cheryl Kaufenberg, Kurt Zipp and Bob Wenzel voted in favor. Board member Craig McCue was absent because he is ill.


DeVoy has worked at the Darien Police Department for more than 20 years and has been chief since 2003. The village so far has paid DeVoy $65,837 in wages and benefits in 2009, although the chief did not work.


Through August, the village had spent $81,000 on attorneys other than municipal court services. Not all legal costs pertained to the chief, but the legal fees so far this year are higher than they have been for twelve months of any recent year, according to village data.



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