By Mike Heine/The Week
(Published Feb. 4, 2007, 9:38 a.m.)
Apparently, town of Geneva police officers can no longer have facial hair or drink in a bar within the town's boundaries.
Those are just two of several rules that a group of officers say town Chairman Joseph F. Kopecky put into their binder of department policies without prior authorization from the town board.
With those, and a host of other allegations, a group of about eight police department employees have sought legal advice for what to do about Kopecky who, they say, is abusing his powers.
They have retained attorney Frank Lettenberger of Delavan, who drafted an outline of complaints against Kopecky at the request of the group.
"At this time, the only reason we're doing this is to ... get the government there running the way it's supposed to be and letting the town board themselves run the town instead of the individual," said a police department employee, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution.
According to an outline of complaints prepared b y Lettenberger, Kopecky allegedly went above the town board's authority in determining how the police department should be run.
Kopecky, chairman since July 1998, refuted the list of complaints against him and says most things were done at the request of citizens or department officers. The board discussed the items listed in the outline, he added.
"The whole need in the town of Geneva probably is to have a professional administrator," Kopecky said. "If we could get a professional administrator, I wouldn't have to spend my time doing this."
Kopecky says what he's doing is making sure the department is accountable to the citizens it serves.
"Apparently these individuals feel they're being scrutinized," he said. "I'm not scrutinizing anything. I'm just making sure there's a working, manageable department that citizens can count on."
Town attorney Richard Torhorst, whom Lettenberger said he provided the outline to, could not be reached before press time.
The officers went to an attorney because they want Kopecky to quit interfering with their work, Lettenberger said.
"These employees, police officers and others, have attempted to resolve these matters with the township and have been unable to get any type of results from the chairman," Lettenberger said. "Now they're left with no choice but to retain legal counsel to assert and preserve their rights."
The anonymous department employee said they hope the state Attorney General's office investigates Kopecky's practices to "make sure the government is running accordingly and make sure all board members have a say in what's going on."
Kopecky said the town board is always involved in the decisions made, and as chairman, he has a responsibility to oversee how the town functions.
"If they're grieving or upset that somebody's watching them, it's about time somebody does," he said. "Maybe nobody was in the past.
"I'm asking for them to be accountable. That's all I'm doing is asking them for accountability."