When Fox Lake Lt. Joe Gliniewicz killed himself Sept. 1, investigators say he knew his superiors were starting to ask uncomfortable questions about how and why he had amassed such a stockpile of military equipment for his Police Explorers.
“Essentially, the kids were being trained to kill on command,” says acting chief Michael Keller. “And I don’t think that’s the intention of the Explorers, of what the Boy Scouts intended them to be.”
There were always questions about how Gliniewicz had managed to obtain so much equipment, literally hundreds upon hundreds of military items, from a program designated strictly for police use. The answer, it turns out, is rather simple.
Fox Lake had officially named him as their point man for procurement from that program. And all of those forms were signed by Michael Behan, the recently-resigned Chief of Police.
Documents obtained by NBC5 Investigates show that year after year, as far back as 2006, Gliniewicz was named as the main point of contact for Fox Lake Police, in their requisitions for the federal government’s Law Enforcement Support Office, or LESO program. He was also separately designated as the officer authorized to requisition weapons from LESO.
But investigators believe he siphoned shipment to the Explorers’ unit year after year, and the documents show that it was Gliniewicz himself who was picking up the shipments. Many of those represent a veritable shopping list, which appears to match up with the items stacked to the ceiling in the Explorer Scouts’ clubhouse.
In 2011 alone, Gliniewicz picked up 80 holsters, 25 military belts, and 19 bulletproof vests. His shopping trip in 2010 included 28 pairs of boots, 37 ground troop helmets, and 65 pairs of fatigue pants. 2009’s cache included computer keyboards and monitors, 21 radios with chargers, and 9 gas masks. In 2008, he brought back 65 military fatigues. And the list goes on, in each case, matching closely, with what NBC5 observed stacked and boxed in the Explorer Scouts’ headquarters.
“The police officers don’t even have equipment like this,” Keller, the acting chief, observed as he stood amidst the mountains of military equipment. “When a department obtains that equipment, it’s not meant for Explorer posts!”
Indeed, during at least two years, NBC5 found documents signed by Gliniewicz, certifying that the equipment would be used for genuine police work.
“When I came down here, I was overwhelmed,” Keller said. “The military is not going to give this equipment to an Explorer post!”
The list do include two military vehicles and dozens of weapons, which it is believed really went to the Fox Lake Police. But investigators say they believe the other items, the helmets, radios, boots, fatigues, and dozens of other items, went directly to Gliniewicz’s scouting program, in apparently violation of LESO program’s rules.
“There’s no indication the police ever had possession of these items,” said detective Christopher Covelli.