A veteran Brookfield police officer resigned in early February after learning that he was going to be fired for a series of improprieties related to a sexual relationship he had with a married woman while on duty in 2011. The officer was also married.
Police Chief Steven Stelter recommended that the officer be fired after a nearly month-long internal investigation of the officer’s conduct, which was revealed to officials by the woman’s husband, who made a formal complaint on Dec. 27.
Village Manager Riccardo Ginex had set the officer’s termination hearing for Jan. 30, but the officer announced he was resigning prior to the hearing. Ginex said he accepted the resignation, which became effective on Feb. 6.
“We’re law enforcement officers; we’re held to a higher standard,” said Stelter. “It’s embarrassing for everybody. It’s embarrassing for the village, the police department, for the elected officials, the village manager. You know, it’s a huge black eye to the entire village overall.”
The Landmark is not revealing the name of the police officer, because he was not charged with a crime, nor was the integrity of the department compromised by his actions. None of the department’s command staff was involved.
No one else in the police department was disciplined over the case, said Stelter, although at least one other officer knew specifically what was going on between the 12-year veteran of the force and the woman.
In the wake of the investigation and the officer’s resignation, Stelter said that he called a department-wide meeting and then talked to officers individually to remind them that they need to hold one another accountable for their actions while on duty.
“There was no wrongdoing on anybody’s part within the department that we discovered, except for the one officer who had full knowledge, but we chose to do just a formal counseling session,” said Stelter.
“If someone is aware, they need to bring it forward so we can nip it in the bud.”
According to the department’s internal investigation, which was given to the Landmark in response to a Freedom of Information request, the officer was found guilty of the following breaches of department rules: violating a general order regarding use and dissemination of information from the department’s computer system, immoral conduct, conduct unbecoming an officer, leaving his post while on duty, neglect of duty and lying about the extent of the relationship to his supervisors.
Brookfield spent $10,074 investigating the case against the officer, according to village records.
The investigation determined that the physical relationship between the officer and the woman began in late September, after the two met by chance earlier that month. The woman and a friend were driving eastbound on Ogden Avenue when they saw the officer driving the opposite direction.
The friend, who was driving, honked her horn and flashed her lights at the officer, who pulled into a parking lot to see what the driver wanted. The driver said she wanted to know if the officer knew any single colleagues.
He later sent the driver a photo of one of his colleagues, and then began a flirtatious text message relationship with the other woman in the vehicle. The married woman agreed to meet the officer, who worked the midnight shift, when she got off work.
In late September, the two met at a Brookfield car wash on Ogden Avenue where the officer reportedly conducted a pat down of the woman in front of another officer, who became embarrassed and walked away.
On Oct. 4, while on duty, the officer met with the woman in the rear parking lot of a business in LaGrange, on Shawmut Avenue just west of Kemman Avenue. The two reportedly began kissing and hugging inside the squad car and the officer also demonstrated the in-squad computer system, pulling up information on three people and showing it to the woman.
Two days later, while the officer was on duty, the two met in the basement of a Brookfield home belonging to an acquaintance of several police officers. The owner was not home at the time, but he reportedly left the door open for officers who wanted to take their meals at his home.
During an encounter that reportedly lasted about 45 minutes, the two engaged in kissing, hugging and touching. The officer also reportedly allowed the woman to hold his firearm, which he unloaded prior to handing it to her. The officer denied to his superiors that he allowed the woman to handle his firearm, according to the investigation report.
On Oct. 16 and again around Halloween, while on duty, the officer met with the woman in the parking lot behind the LaGrange business. On both occasions, the woman performed oral sex on the officer while inside the squad car.
It was also around Halloween that the woman’s husband confronted the officer about the relationship and asked him to stay away from his wife. While the officer apparently complied with that request, the investigation report indicates that the woman continued to send text messages to the officer, sometimes threatening to reveal their affair to his superiors and the officer’s wife.
On Dec. 12, the officer revealed something was going on to one of his superiors, saying that a woman was stalking him but failing to disclose the extent of their relationship.
But after a Brookfield police lieutenant visited the woman’s home to request that she stop contacting the officer, the entire situation began to unravel. On Dec. 26, the woman and her husband came to the officer’s southwest suburban home to expose the relationship to the officer’s wife, a visit that prompted the officer to report the incident to his hometown police department.
A day later, the woman’s husband filed a formal complaint against the officer at the Brookfield police station, touching off the internal investigation. The officer was placed on administrative leave on Dec. 30, according to Stelter. He resigned following the completion of the investigation and receiving the notice of his termination hearing on Jan. 30.