Brooklyn Police were towing vehicles to generate enough money for their own paychecks, according to a letter from St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly.
Also, Police Chief Steve Mitchell has resigned, just days after a raid, after a former village police officer was charged with two felonies and after another quit as an allegation surfaced that he took an assault rifle from the evidence locker.
Kelly’s letter outlines to Brooklyn Mayor Vera Glasper-Banks how village police felt pressured to have vehicles towed as a way of ensuring their paychecks didn’t bounce. Vehicles were towed by a relative of officer Dean Anderson, Kelly’s letter states.
Dean Anderson on Thursday was charged with two felonies: one count of public contractor misconduct and one count of aggravated battery for allegedly pushing a minor out of a chair in October 2013 at the Juvenile Transition Center in Centreville. Anderson formerly worked as a police officer in Alorton.
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The letter obtained through the Illinois Freedom of Information Act indicates the village’s towing practices may lead to problems with Brooklyn’s criminal charges. The letter from Kelly to Glasper-Banks last week stated there were numerous complaints from citizens and an investigation was opened that found the Brooklyn Police Department uses Classic Auto Body to tow its vehicles.
The letter states that the Swansea tow company is owned by Michael W. Anderson, who is a relative of Dean Anderson.
Michael Anderson said he’d been towing for the village for fewer than five months.
“The six members of the city council voted for me to have the towing contract. My nephew was not working there at the time when I was voted in,” he said.
Additionally, he said it was not a direct conflict because there was another tow company still operating in the village which had been there for 30 years, he said.
He said he quit Wednesday and got a letter from Kelly on Friday asking that he not continue because of the potential for conflict.
Mike Anderson said he supports keeping politics and nepotism out of public contract decisions.
“I agree with that policy. I wish someone would have told me and I would not be part of the story today,” Mike Anderson said. “It’s a new thing that they’ve got going. I think it’s going to be a great thing. It will help with a lot of issues in a lot of towns and villages.”
Brooklyn Police officers said they felt pressured to tow vehicles to generate money for the department’s payroll, Kelly’s letter stated. He noted that as part of the Metro East Police District Commission, village police signed a policy to avoid even the appearance of conflicts of interest because they could jeopardize a case’s prosecution.
“I will not charge or consider an application for charges in any case in which the vehicle was towed using a towing company that has a familial, personal, or business relationship with any Brooklyn police officer.”
Kelly said his office will strictly scrutinize applications for charges in Brooklyn cases in which a vehicle was towed because he wants “to ensure that towing was done in accordance with policy, in furtherance of public safety and justice, and not simply as a means to generate revenue.”
Village Attorney Eric Evans said former police chief Mitchell decided it was in his and the village’s best interests for him to resign, giving the mayor notice on Saturday. Neither Mitchell not Glasper-Banks could be reached.
“He felt he was not able to function in the way he wanted to. His resignation was accepted by the mayor on Saturday. And, the mayor wishes him the best of luck,” Evans said.
Mitchell was with the department for about a year. He took over when Tony Tomlinson left as chief to head up the Alorton Police Department. A sergeant is currently handling the Brooklyn chief’s duties.
State and St. Clair County investigators on Wednesday raided the department, taking weapons, computers and other items. Kelly said he had “no comment at this time” about the search and seizures.
Also last week, former detective Christopher Heatherly quit after Kelly wrote the mayor to report that Heatherly took an assault rifle out of the evidence locker for his personal use, including posing with it for a department photo calendar.