FOX LAKE (FOX 32 News) - On Tuesday, Fox Lake held the first village board meeting since the news broke that Lt. Joe Gliniewicz death was a suicide and that he had been stealing from the Police Explorers program for seven years.
The mayor of Fox Lake also defended a trip that he took with the former police chief to see the Bears take on the Chargers in San Diego on Monday. However, interim police chief Michael Keller was in no way defending how the police department had been run before the Glinewiecz scandal broke.
“He was allowed to essentially do whatever he wanted to do with zero accountability,” said Keller.
Keller says the previous administration failed the people of Fox Lake, but he's trying to change that.
“It started at the very top, there was no leadership, much of what we've changed policy and procedure-wise these are things that should've been done away with many years ago or they were nonexistent to begin with,” Keller said.
Some of that leadership failure could be pointed at former Police Chief Michael Behan, who was under investigation for failing to discipline another officer and resigned days before Lt. Gliniewicz staged his own suicide to cover up his own misdeeds.
Mayor Donny Schmit defended his trip with Behan to see the Bears game in San Diego, saying it had been planned for months and was an annual trip between longtime friends.
“How I spend my free time, and who I spend it with doesn't affect the village. Covering it is nothing but a distraction from the work we need to do to recover from all this and move on in a way that makes Fox Lake stronger,” Mayor Schmit said.
Several people at the meeting defended the mayor's trip.
Also, FOX 32 has learned that the bank account established early on to accept donations for the Gliniewicz family has now been frozen, but it's not clear how much money, including the 127,000 raised from the sale of t-shirts, has been given to the family.
Many people are demanding refunds and the new police chief says the family should return it.
“Absolutely, I think in my mind, I think it's theft for them to keep that,” Keller said.
The interim police chief said changes have been made in the command structure that he hopes will restore public trust. Morale in the department is also on the mend.
As for Mayor Schmit, he said unspecified changes were being made to prevent another Gliniewicz-type case from happening.