After a drug scandal led to the resignation of three Schaumburg Police officers, a consultant reported the police department’s problems may stem from larger issues including a lack of effective leadership and structure.
The report said the department has a strong foundation, but offered a roadmap with a long list of recommended changes in the way the Schaumburg Police Department operates.
The changes include reforming the department’s organizational structure and amending the force’s investigative practices and “ineffective” handling of disciplinary matters, and confronting the department’s “greatest challenge” of ineffective leadership.
“Many of the Department’s current issues-from discipline, communications and compartmentalization to low morals- stem directly or indirectly from a deficiency in management and reporting relationships,” the report states.
The report was commissioned in February by the village from an independent council of retired major city police chiefs at the Hillard Heintze consulting firm after the January arrests of three officers accused of stealing illegal drugs seized during arrests.
The trio were arrested Jan. 16 by DuPage County and federal authorities. They're accused of only reporting portions of drugs they'd seized and reselling the rest to drug dealers. All had been placed on leave following their arrests.
"The fact that these three individuals are no longer members of the Schaumburg Police Department is good news for our residents and for the honest, law abiding officers that are working in our community every day," Village Manager Ken Fritz said in a statement.
The study found that a lack of oversight and absence of a strategy-drive approach to investigative priorities meant officers in the special investigations arena often work independently and “do not always follow best practices.”
In April, one of the lead assessors on the report, Ken Bouche, was appointed interim Chief of Police at the department and began implementing several changes recommended from the study.
For example, the department re-established the rank of lieutenant “to strengthen supervision, mentoring and accountability,” dismantled the Special Investigations Bureau and initiated a review of local narcotics activity.
“At its core, this is a very good police department but it needed immediate change and we were able to start implementing key things quickly,” Bouche said in a statement.”[Officers] want to see the Schaumburg Police Department emerge as a standard-bearer for how a large suburb can fight crime effectively, strengthen community relationships and lead by example. The recommendations in this report will help us get there.”
The Village Board will evaluate the report and consider the recommendations, while the Schaumburg Police Department continues to search for a permanent chief.
“I am fully confident that the course we are now on is one that will help us make the Schaumburg Police Department more effective, more accountable and ultimately, one that serves our community professionally and capably for years to come,” said Schaumburg Village Manager Ken Fritz. “But this report means little if we don’t turn recommendations into action.”