--A very smart move by the incoming mayor.--
Story at Chicago Tribune
By Dan Hinkel
Chicago Tribune reporter
8:38 PM CDT, April 10, 2013
The newly elected mayor of Waukegan plans to remove the city's police chief partly because of comments he made criticizing officers who committed suicide.
Chief Daniel Greathouse's future became a campaign issue in February when the Tribune reported that he had emailed his department and voiced his opinion as to why three officers had killed themselves in less than two years.
"These suicides were about personal choices, selfishness and weakness," he wrote Jan. 19 in an email obtained by the Tribune.
Greathouse will be demoted to lieutenant when the mayor's office changes hands in early May, said Wayne Motley, a former Waukegan police officer and current city clerk who beat incumbent Mayor Robert Sabonjian on Tuesday.
Motley said Greathouse is a "very good man" but that his conduct during some 21/2 years as chief had alienated officers. The patrol officers' union took a vote of no confidence in Greathouse in 2011, and Motley said the chief's comments on the suicides worsened morale, contributing to the decision to demote him.
"It angered the vast majority of the police officers on duty," Motley said. "I think morale in our Police Department currently does not exist."
Psychologists and anti-suicide advocates condemned Greathouse's comments, saying police need to be encouraged to seek mental health help and chiefs need to battle the stigmatization of mental illness and culture of silence in law enforcement.
Neither Greathouse nor Sabonjian could be reached for comment.
Motley's win meant a loss for a political dynasty in Waukegan, a struggling former industrial hub with about 90,000 residents. The outgoing mayor's father, also named Robert Sabonjian, served as mayor from 1957 to 1977 and again from 1985 to 1989. The younger Sabonjian, a former County Board member, ran as an independent and ousted Democratic Mayor Richard Hyde in 2009.
He ran as an independent again this year against Motley, a Democrat, and Susana Figueroa, an independent. Motley notched 3,130 votes to Sabonjian's 2,526 and Figueroa's 791, according to the unofficial vote tally.
Replacing Motley as city clerk will be Democrat Artis Yancey, a former Lake County coroner and Waukegan police chief. He received 3,695 votes, while independent candidate Mark Drobnick drew 2,446.
Among Motley's priorities is convincing the state to put a casino in Waukegan, which he said would be a "shot in the arm" for the city's economy.
It's not unusual for a new mayor to install new department heads, and Motley said he plans to keep some and replace others.
Motley, 62, who served on the police force for 26 years and retired as a sergeant in 2001, said he hopes to "revamp" the Police Department by finding money to add officers to the force of about 141.
In January, the department was rocked by its third officer suicide in 20 months when Sgt. Peter Michaels died. That followed the deaths of officers Mark Jacobs in May 2011 and Mark Sturtevant in April 2012.
Greathouse said all the officers had suffered personal problems and there was no evidence that any of the suicides were related to police work. After Michaels' death, Greathouse told the Tribune he was instituting a "full-court press" against suicide and pushing a host of new mental health initiatives.
But Greathouse's message to his department was different, according to emails obtained by the Tribune. After an officer emailed Greathouse to plead with him to improve morale, Greathouse emailed the entire department Jan. 19 and cited weakness and selfishness among the suicide victims. Greathouse said officers bear responsibility for their own happiness.
"In my humble opinion, that's why this country is so screwed up these days," he wrote. "This younger generation wants everyone else to solve their problems for them, make them happy and clear the easy path for them."
After the story ran, the city released a statement in which Greathouse apologized and said he regretted letting his emotions overcome him. Sabonjian said in the statement that the city was working to prevent suicide and that Greathouse had his "unwavering support."
Motley said he will name a new chief immediately after he takes office.