STANFORD - The Stanford Village Board essentially shut down what was left of its police department Thursday night. The board voted unanimously to place Police Chief Everett Copeland on paid administrative leave pending an investigation by the McLean County sheriff's Police Department.
Copeland is a part-time employee with 13 years of service at the department. He and part-time officer Jeff Daugherty were the only two members left of what had been a four-member department.
Daugherty will be paid for his scheduled hours throughout the end of the month, but he will not be able to work those hours.
"Since he has no police chief to supervise him, he won't be working," village attorney Mark McGrath said after the four-hour Village Board meeting.
Several residents in the audience said they were worried about having no police department of their own. They were told McLean County sheriff's police will be patrolling the village.
When the board was asked about how often officers would be there, McGrath said it was more effective from a crime-deterrent standpoint not to be specific about when police would be in town.
McGrath said it would not be fair to the sheriff's department's internal investigation to say whether the action involving the police chief was related to a McLean County sheriff's deputy now on paid leave.
In April, the Village Board voted 3-1 to extend Copeland's employment contract for three months instead of the standard one-year renewal. At that time, Copeland and his department were embroiled in a dispute over whether one of his officers, who also is a McLean County sheriff's deputy, intentionally targeted Mayor Margaret Campbell in a March 21 traffic stop.
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Copeland said at the time the officer, Ramiro Bosquez, did not target her. The deputy, who had been a part-time officer in Stanford, is under investigation in connection with that incident.
The traffic citations issued in the stop were dismissed.
The meeting began at 7 p.m. with about 30 people in the audience. It ended about 11 p.m. with only a handful still in attendance.
The chief, who left the meeting about 10 p.m., was instructed to turn in his keys and other items belonging to the village police department.
The unanimous vote came after about two dozen people stood outside during a 1½-hour executive session in damp, chilly weather.
Two board members, George Singley and Michelle Westerhouse, left before the vote was taken after the session. Singley had to go to work, said board member Eric Geurts after the meeting. Westerhouse rushed out of the meeting without explanation.
The resignation of part-time officer Jeff Kretlow was also accepted, but McGrath said that was expected due to him being on active military duty.