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Waukegan mayoral candidates have ‘no confidence’ in police chief

Waukegan Police Chief Daniel Greathouse

Waukegan Police Chief Daniel Greathouse

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Updated: April 14, 2013 2:10AM

Two of the three Democratic candidates for mayor said at a public forum Monday night that, if elected, they would not retain Police Chief Daniel Greathouse in light of published comments about the recent suicides of three Waukegan officers.

A report last week quoted a leaked email exchange between Greathouse and an unnamed officer in which he referred to the suicides as the result of “selfishness and weakness.” At the end of a forum at Warren Township High School sponsored by River Road homeowners’ associations, Waukegan resident Wally Sczygielski referred to the quotes and asked each candidate “would you retain that chief of police? I want you to publicly talk on this subject.”

“I called (Greathouse) into my office,” said City Clerk Wayne Motley, answering first, “and told him if I’m elected mayor he would not have a job. I sat him down man-to-man and told him because of the controversy, he would not have a job.”

First Ward Ald. Sam Cunningham, saying he had not read the published account, didn’t offer a yes-or-no answer, but added that “I think when you make comments like that, you bring morale down with any organization.”

State Sen. Link’s response was brief, saying “no, he will not be my police chief.”

Attempts to reach Greathouse for comment Tuesday were not successful. His email remarks went public about one month after the apparent suicide of Sgt. Peter Michaels, who was found dead Jan. 10 in a wooded area north of his Antioch home. The Lake County Coroner’s office, while not reporting a cause of death, stated that the 42-year-old Michaels, the Exchange Club of Waukegan’s Command Officer of the Year in 2009, had suffered a single gunshot wound to the head.

Michaels’ death came following the reported suicides of veteran officers Mark Jacobs, 33, in May 2011 and Mark Sturtevant, 43, in April 2012.

Greathouse was also the subject of controversy in February 2011, when members of the Waukegan Police Benevolent Labor Committee Unit 42, which represents patrol officers, issued a vote of “no confidence” in the chief, who was appointed in August 2010.

Mayor Robert Sabonjian backed Greathouse at that time and also in March 2012, when 8th Ward Ald. William Valko read a statement before the City Council alleging conflict between Greathouse and department personnel and calling for his dismissal. Sabonjian could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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