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Flossmoor mayor says police chief will leave after less than a year at the helm

Flossmoor Police Chief Jerel Jones is out. 

After several days of rumors that the village planned to dismiss him and a sometimes raucous village board meeting Monday that overflowed with his supporters, Flossmoor Mayor Michelle Nelson issued a statement Thursday, March 7, indicating Jones would be leaving his post.

Michelle Nelson

“To start, Chief Jones is likeable, and he and the department have been focused on
community building,” she said. “With all the misinformation in the public, it is understandable that residents are speaking up. It has been disappointing, however, that the public conversation has been so devoid of facts.”

She noted that it is inappropriate to discuss the specifics of personnel matters in public in order to protect the privacy of the individual involved, but she wanted to provide factual context so residents would not depend upon rumor.

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“To be clear, this matter is strictly about performance,” she said. “There have been serious operational and administrative lapses under his watch. In totality, I believe these lapses mean that our residents are not receiving the level of public safety services they expect and deserve. Based on that conclusion, it has become clear that it is best for the village if all parties part ways.”

She also clarified that, contrary to claims made at the board meeting, the village has no intention to remove Deputy Chief Keith Taylor.

Nelson said the village “will move quickly and responsibly because we know that there are few things more important to us than delivering top-quality public safety services to the residents we
proudly serve,” but she did not specify whether an acting chief had been named or when the search for Jones’ replacement would begin.

Nelson said more information on those matters would be available soon. 

The standing-room-only audience at the board meeting Monday, March 4, appeared to consist mostly of Jones’ supporters, including at least 20 uniformed law enforcement officials from area jurisdictions. 

Eight speakers addressed the police chief issue during the 30 minutes allotted for public comment, and each expressed support for him and questioned the village’s presumed intent to fire him. 

The issue also appeared to create a rift in a board that has been consistently very collegial. Three trustees expressed support for Jones and voted in favor of a motion to convene in closed session to discuss personnel matters. Nelson cast the tie-breaking vote to defeat the motion.

On Wednesday, WGN-TV posted a statement by Flossmoor Assistant Village Manager Jonathan Bogue that said Jones had been placed on leave for a few days for a “cooling of heads after he, in part, orchestrated a political demonstration at the village board meeting in order to create a distraction and place village leadership, the Flossmoor Police Department and our community in a false and unfavorable light.”

Trustee Gary Daggett posted a comment on Facebook Thursday morning criticizing the tone of the statement. 

“I acknowledge that the statements made at Monday’s board meeting by the residents were the genuine concerns of the community and deserve to be heard and valued,” he said.

Trustee Rosalind Mustafa, who expressed support for Jones at the meeting, said she was saddened for him after reading the mayor’s statement, which she thought was disparaging to him. 

She was also critical of Nelson’s handling of the communication with the board on the issue, noting that she was not aware of the statement until after it was posted.

“I don’t think posting something without your board knowing is a positive way to lead,” she said. “I would expect a mayor to fairly represent the performance of a professional she praised and believed in when he was hired. And during the year he was here, if there were safety risks to the community, those risks were never communicated to her board, never discussed and never addressed.”

Regarding whether she had consulted with the board before issuing the statement, Nelson said, “It’s my statement.”

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