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Darien Village Board tables vote to remove police chair

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ANN MARIE AMES
November 11, 2009
— An attorney Tuesday night put the brakes on decisions he said could add to the political division in the village.

During a special meeting, village attorney Mark Hazelbaker convinced the village board to table a vote to remove John Evans as chairman of the police and public safety committee. And he convinced Evans to take two items off tonight’s committee agenda.


Board members started arguing as soon as Tuesday’s meeting started. Board member Kurt Zipp, who put the item about Evans on the agenda along with board member Cheryl Kaufenberg, said he was concerned about the committee chairman’s performance.


Village board President Evelyn Etten, who appointed Evans in April, said the push to remove him was “ludicrous and absurd.”


Zipp said Evans had incorrectly interpreted police department management rules and incorrectly compared the situation between Darien and its suspended police chief with another community.


He also was concerned with tonight’s police committee agenda that—as of the time of the discussion—called for a closed session to talk about felony misconduct charges against Administrator Marc Dennison and Sgt. Mike Maltese, the village’s acting police chief.


“These sort of things could get us into deep financial trouble just as we’re trying to heal as a village,” Zipp said.


Board members disagreed about whether village ordinances allow the board to remove Evans or whether only Etten has the authority.


Hazelbaker said the village should confer with its attorneys to clarify the process to remove Evans, if necessary. And Evans should seek legal advice before putting sensitive items on a committee agenda, Hazelbaker said.


Evans agreed to take the items about investigating Maltese and Dennison off tonight’s agenda.


The police committee meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the village hall, 24 Wisconsin St. The agenda includes discussion about a feasibility study to create a police commission for the village.


A commission would carry more power over the administration of the police department than the committee does.


The committee also plans to discuss and possibly take action on the village’s shortage of part-time police officers and the possibility of seeking police services from the Walworth County Sheriff’s Department, among other things.


The committee also could resolve to seek a settlement with suspended Police Chief Steve DeVoy. The committee in October offered to settle with DeVoy, but the board voted against the offer.



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