Darien police chief, village OK separation agreement
DARIEN For reasons that remain unclear, Hunter Gilmore, on paid administrative leave, has signed a separation agreement removing him as Darien police chief.
The agreement, released Wednesday after a closed meeting of the village board, includes a "whereas" clause indicating the village "intends to eliminate its police department."
"The village board and the chief of police have different opinions on what direction the police department should be moving in," according to an accompanying press release.
Gilmore's separation is effective June 30. He will remain on paid administrative leave until his separation. His leave includes pay and benefits.
Both Gilmore and the village agree that he "has not received any discipline and has not been terminated," according to the agreement. One condition requires Gilmore to release the village, its employees and departments "from any and all actions, causes of actions, claims, demands and damages."
The village agreed to provide Gilmore with a letter of recommendation, which was included as an exhibit to the agreement. The four-page letter signed by Village President Evelyn Etten included a two-page list of Gilmore's accomplishments at the department.
"It is my pleasure to recommend Chief Gilmore," Etten said in the letter.
Gilmore agreed not to seek re-employment with the village. Both sides agreed that the agreement "is not to be construed as an admission of any wrongdoing or liability whatsoever" by or on behalf of Gilmore or the village.
Gilmore signed the agreement Monday. The village board adopted the agreement Wednesday on a 6-1 vote, with James Abbott voting no.
The village has been dealing with the issue of Gilmore's continued employment for at least a month. An Oct. 4 meeting notice announced a closed board session to "consider potential charges against the chief." That item was later removed from the agenda.
The original agenda, however, coincided with Gilmore being put on paid leave. At that time, the board issued a press release indicating it had "every confidence" in Gilmore's continued leadership.
Board considers policing plans
The Darien Village Board has three proposals to choose from if it decides to disband its police department and contract out for the service.
The board heard Wednesday a presentation by Walworth County Sheriff David Graves, who outlined two proposals in which his department would provide police services to the village. A week earlier, the board heard a police services proposal from the city of Delavan.
Graves' first plan would provide a deputy assigned to Darien 24 hours a day, seven days a week for all three shifts. The plan would require five deputies who would report directly to Darien, not the sheriff's office in Elkhorn.
"Under this plan, you would retain complete control of your police services," Graves said. "You would have 24/7 service with the same deputies as much as possible."
That proposal carries a $446,785 annual price tag. The offer includes five deputies and a vehicle in addition to vehicle and equipment costs such as fuel, medical supplies and ammunition.
Graves' second plan was a pared-down version of the first proposal. It calls for similar services with four deputies, but not all shifts could be staffed 24/7. During times when dedicated deputies were not available, the sheriff's office would provide coverage through its southwest-sector deputies. The plan would cost the village $350,285 a year.
Both plans would use current Darien police officers provided they meet sheriff's office qualifications.
The Delavan plan would include Darien as a sector of the Delavan Police Department and result in 24/7 service in the village. Delavan's proposal also agreed to incorporate Darien officers if they meet Delavan Police Department qualifications.
The Delavan offer has a higher price tag. The cost is $465,000 for 2013, $495,000 for 2014 and $525,000 for 2015 with automatic renewal required for 2014 and 2015.
The county proposal deliberately was offered on a one-year basis, Graves said.
"We don't want to lock the village into a multi-year agreement it might not want later on," Graves said. "The contract would be renegotiated on an annual basis much the way you budget each year for your police department."
Both the Delavan and Walworth County proposals were informational only. No comments or questions from the public were entertained.
The public will have an opportunity to ask questions and comment on the proposals at the village board meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19.