SAUK VILLAGE | For the year that Robert Fox was police chief here, he was targeted by those who opposed his appointment by Village President Lewis Towers and said the village could not afford his $75,000 annual salary.
At various points, Fox would admit privately he was inclined to quit the post to get away from the bickering and court battles that have plagued Sauk Village municipal government.
That feeling finally took over last week, when Fox signed a legal agreement saying he would not accept the post that Towers wanted him to take — head of both the Police and Fire departments.
Because of that action, Fox, who was previously police chief in Dolton, will be out of a job Thursday, the first day of the new fiscal year for Sauk Village. The village trustees created a budget for the year that eliminates the police chief post and puts the department under the control of longtime Fire Chief Alan Stoffregen.
Fox told The Times on Tuesday he thinks having a fire chief run a police department will be detrimental. He also said, “It is unheard of for a village to not have a police chief.”
Fox said he thinks village officials were wrong to do what they did, even if they claim to be doing so purely for financial reasons.
“I got tired of dealing with their playing games all the time,” he said of the trustees.
Disagreeing was Village Trustee Derrick Burgess, who is challenging Towers for village president in the 2013 municipal elections.
“As long as (Fox) is out, I'm pleased,” he said.
In January, trustees tried terminating Fox, only to have Cook County Judge Kathleen Pantle uphold Towers’ authority to appoint Fox to the position. Finally, in September, trustees made the move to eliminate the position effective this week.
Many officers within the Police Department signed a “no-confidence” letter last week against Fox questioning the amount of time he actually worked, although Fox said Tuesday he thinks taxpayers are more likely to be hurt by having a Police Department without its own leadership.
“I just hope that it doesn't have too harmful an impact on the taxpayers,” he said.
Yet not all taxpayers are concerned about losing Fox. Louise Kopaczewski, was one of several local residents who picketed Monday at the Municipal Center to protest Towers. She said Towers' appointment of Fox back in November 2011 was his most flawed action.
“The mayor went out and gave us a bad police chief, and we had to fight to stop him,” Kopaczewski said.
Fox said he is conducting himself with his usual routine in his final days on the job, saying that he spoke Tuesday to a group of elementary school students, and also had errands to run.
“I’m just taking care of business before I leave,” Fox said.