Pam Jackson
Local News

Flossmoor board in stalemate over explanation of police chief firing

A rift that has developed among Flossmoor’s elected leaders over the firing of former police chief Jerel Jones was evident again at the board meeting Monday, April 1, and the question of how to answer residents’ demands for transparency appears to be in a stalemate.

Several residents also spoke on the issue during the public comment period, but the attendance, about 30 people, was much lower than at the board’s two meetings in March, when the board room was filled to overflowing.

Following a preliminary review of the village’s 2024-25 budget, Mayor Michelle Nelson invited board comments prior to convening in closed session to discuss personnel matters.

Trustee Rosalind Mustafa made a statement to show her support for residents’ call for transparency and asking Nelson to respond with more information about her decision to fire Jones.


“On March 7, 11 days before Chief Jones was terminated by the board of trustees, Mayor Michelle Nelson announced in a written statement that it was time to part ways due to safety issues,” she said. “And I asked, ‘What are the safety issues that led to the mayor’s decision?’ She has not informed the board, and she has not issued another public statement.

“Mayor Nelson, you have promised to provide information that every resident would support. You have stated that residents will agree that you made the right decision. Our residents love Flossmoor and truly want to heal the rift in our village, but they also deserved to be respected and not dismissed.”

Trustee Joni Bradley-Scott also expressed frustration that more information was not available.

“I am very heartbroken that our community feels a divide and I can’t provide them the answers that they’re looking for,” she said. “When we have this breach in confidence, it affects all of the things that we do. We owe them answers to their questions. If we’re able to communicate that to the public, I think that the confidence could be restored.”

Nelson responded by saying the board had been informed about Jones’ performance reviews, but noted that releasing his personnel records would be inappropriate.

“Stating that I have yet to report on any operational safety or material issues is outright false,” she said. “We might not agree on severity, but definitely updates have been made to the board of trustees.

“Trustees understand why you can’t release personnel records. It’s our fiduciary duty to make sure that we protect the village and also our employees. If an employee or a former employee wants to disclose their own personal records, they’re definitely welcome to do so.”

One of Jones’ attorneys, Cass Casper of Disparti Law Group, urged the village to release the personnel records during a news conference on March 11 at which he and attorney Robert Fioretti announced they had filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Flossmoor and Village Manager Bridget Wachtel on Jones’ behalf.

The lawsuit includes excerpts from Wachtel’s reviews of Jones’ performance, but Casper said the full records were not released in order to avoid revealing any sensitive security information, which he said the village could redact before releasing the documents.

A spokesman for the firm said permission to release the records has not been submitted to the village in writing so far, but he did not rule out the possibility.

The Chronicle has filed a FOIA request for Jones’ personnel records, but the village is not required to respond until April 3.

Nelson also announced at the meeting that the village launched a new transparency page Monday, April 1, on its website. She said the information had been available online previously but had been gathered together into one place.

Residents who spoke on the issue included a couple of new faces. One man said he hadn’t really planned to address the board, but he took the opportunity to express his support for village officials.

“I know it’s a rough patch we’re going through now, but I think we’re gonna be fine,” he said. “And I have nothing but praise for, uh, our trustees and our mayor and our police department.”
Pam Jackson spoke again. She addressed the board at the March 18 meeting, too, asking the village to review its personnel policies and practices to avoid another situation like the firing of Jones.

On Monday, she had more specific questions she asked the village to consider.

“As a solutions oriented leader, I believe it is prudent to analyze and assess this situation in the greatest degree of detail, identifying lessons learned and developing a path forward that is inclusive, thoughtful and thorough,” she said. “I’m hopeful that you are hearing the plea of your constituents, our community, for transparency.”

Her questions centered around the search process when Jones was hired and what the process would be for his replacement.

“Were stakeholder interviews performed? Did the village use a search firm? Who was a part of the interview panel? Were the trustees a part of the process? What process is adhered to to engage the community in these decisions? Does the community relations community have an opportunity to provide input? Did you confer with the Illinois Associations of Chiefs of Police?” she questioned.

Nelson said the village did conduct stakeholder interviews and worked with the Illinois State Chiefs Police during the previous search.

Related stories:
Calls for transparency continue at Flossmoor Community Relations Commission meeting (March 31, 2024).
Residents continue to call for transparency, discuss racial implications of police chief firing (March 20, 2024).
In split vote, Flossmoor trustees fire Police Chief Jerel Jones (March 18, 2024).
Former Flossmoor police chief files federal lawsuit charging racially motivated treatment
(March 11, 2024).
Jerel Jones complaint filed against Flossmoor (March 11, 2024).
Jones’ supporters rally at Flossmoor Village Hall on Monday (March 11, 2024).
Cozy Flossmoor Fest brings community closer together (Sept. 12, 2023).
Flossmoor Fest youth policy approved by board (Sept. 6, 2023).
Flossmoor trustees welcome new police chief Jerel Jones (March 29, 2023).
Flossmoor appoints Jones as new police chief (March 20, 2023).

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