Riverside’s fire chief has been placed on paid administrative leave, Village Manager Peter Scalera confirmed Friday.
On Monday night, Scalera said he will submit the findings of a report regarding Chief Kevin Mulligan to members of the village board in closed session. Scalera declined to disclose the nature of the report, but said it came in the wake of an unspecified claim made by Mulligan a week before he was placed on leave.
“The claim has been investigated by me,” Scalera said. “I’ve concluded my review and I’m going to submit my findings on Monday during executive session.”
Mulligan did not respond immediately to a message left on his cellphone.
The village’s fire chief since 2006 and a member of the department for almost 30 years, Mulligan has been on administrative leave since Feb. 23, Scalera said. The decision to authorize that leave was made during a closed-door meeting of the village board following their Feb. 21 business meeting, Scalera said.
The action followed months of apparent turmoil within the fire department. Both of the department’s deputy chiefs, Matt and John Buckley, resigned their posts within the past eight months.
Matt Buckley remains a captain in the department. John Buckley left the department on Feb. 18.
In his resignation letter, a copy of which the Landmark received through a Freedom of Information request, John Buckley wrote, “I am convinced that trust is the most important quality necessary among the senior officers in any fire department. While you may not agree, I believe the trust among the senior officers is lacking to the point that the operations of the organization have been significantly impacted. My hope is that you are able to build a staff that you can trust and rely upon.”
In Mulligan’s absence, Scalera named Capt. Bill Sherman as the day-to-day supervisor for the department. Sherman within the past year had also been relieved by Mulligan of his duties as training officer.
“Bill Sherman has been designated as the officer in charge,” said Scalera. “I informed the board that, while I conducted the investigation, I thought it was important to have an officially designated official for employees to go to for day-to-day operations. He’s the senior officer.”
Also on Monday, the village board is expected to amend the village code and will give the village manager the ability to hire and fire the chiefs of the police and fire departments. Currently, that power rests with the village board.
That transfer of power is expected to be voted on during Monday night’s board meeting prior to Scalera delivering his findings to the board in executive session.