Caseyville board votes to reinstate fired police chief

News-DemocratFebruary 20, 2014 

Caseyville Police Chief Jose Alvarez and Mayor Len Black went at it Feb. 19 during the Village Board meeting, shouting over operation of the department, making local hires and whether talk radio personality Bob Romanik really runs the police department. At one point a police sergeant and several others separated Alvarez from the mayor.

BND

— The Village Board has voted 6-0 to reinstate Police Chief Jose Alvarez, who was fired by Mayor Leonard Black last week.

"I voted to reinstate Chief Alvarez because the process in which he was fired was not right," Board member Rick Casey Jr. said Thursday.

Casey said the mayor needs to have the support of the Village Board when he hires or fires someone.

Trustee Brenda Williams said, "We didn't think the (firing) was done in the proper procedure, so we voted him back in."

Asked whether Alvarez had a heated outburst at the meeting, Williams confirmed that he did. But, she said, "He was under a lot of stress and had been harassed a little by some people. We overlooked it."

Williams said the meeting was a stressful one.

"Everybody has a breaking point at some point. He apologized to some of the citizens who were at the meeting," Williams said. And, she said she accepts his apology, too.

Other Village Board members could not be reached for comment about their vote on Wednesday.

Alvarez could not be reached for comment.

Black said Thursday the issue is a personnel matter.

"I suggest you get a copy of the video and minutes from last night. And, I'll let the record speak for itself," Black said.

When Black fired Alvarez on Feb. 12, he said, "I wanted to go in a different direction with the administration of the police department."

Alvarez was contacted by the News-Democrat last week after Black's announcement and he said he did not know anything about Black's decision. Later, though, he confirmed that he had been fired.

Alvarez was hired in September.

Before taking the Caseyville job, Alvarez was deputy chief of investigations with the St. Clair County State's Attorney's Office.

Alvarez replaced former Caseyville Police Chief J.D. Roth, who took his own life June 13 at his home in Fairview Heights after being suspended and facing criminal charges in relation to misappropriation of village property.

According to Alvarez's contract, he is paid an annual salary of $70,000.

Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 618-239-2503.

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