A three-year internal investigation into police misconduct in the village of Willow Springs, Illinois, saw nearly half of the police department fired or resigned, the village announced Wednesday.
Mayor Alan Nowacyzyk said after years of investigation and hundreds of pages of depositions that five officers have been fired over the past nine months.
“The residents needed to know,” he told NBC 5.
The investigation is still ongoing, the village said in a news release, and aims to uncover whether or not public funds were used for a private business.
Nowacyzyk said it all began with a former officer, Michael Giorgetti, in 2013. Giorgetti got in an accident driving his squad car while doing private business in Wisconsin, Nowacyzyk said. The village said Giorgetti was working for a former village contractor and had traveled with another village official to retrieve equipment they planned to store in a village-owned public works garage.
“That police officer attempted to cover up certain facts, lied through an investigation, was terminated, turned around (and) sued the village for wrongful termination,” he said.
An investigation led to a second officer being terminated for falsifying police documents, a third retired at the start of interrogation, a fourth resigned after receiving notice he’d be interrogated and a fifth resigned after that.
“It’s troubling,” Nowacyzyk said.
Girgetti told NBC 5 over the phone he had a 24-year spotless record. He said he had a whistleblower case against him and he’s considering further legal action against the village.
The mayor said although nearly half the force was affected, they’ve been hiring full and part-time staff that more than compensate for the officers no longer on the street—and residents need not worry about safety.
The mayor said Wednesday he is hoping for closure and a final review by an independent agency investigating the department in the coming months.
Willow Springs is about 17 miles southwest of downtown Chicago.