June 1, 2017 – By Bill O’Neill
For the last year now, the City of Elgin has been failing to produce documents specifically asked for via FOIA. The Freedom of Information Act is not only state law, but Federal as well. It’s intent is to assure to us (anyone tax-paying citizen), transparency in government. The City of Elgin has been using FOIA’s for the opposite. It shields the elitists most of the time, by burning others as a diversion.
Specifics you ask? Well….a year ago I was informed by someone of an officer’s bad temper and said that if I didn’t believe it, to look at the officer’s history of domestic violence. The officer in question was Sgt. Eric Echevarria. So I did that. I FOIA’d the department for complaints or internal reports concerning him. Their reply? “none exist”. I knew at least one report in 2015 did in fact, “exist” so now I had to get creative. I knew everything about this case down to the report number. After another 6 months of beating around the bush only to get stonewalled, I finally got that report which proved what I’m typing tonight is in fact, fact. I received not only that, but more. One incident even occurring at a city-owned Rope house! The only way they released that report was when I had to ask for it by address. It clearly had Eric Echevarria’s name in it. That one should have been returned when I asked for reports involving him in June of last year. Instead, they juke and run at every opportunity.
Speaking of that (city-owned) ROPE house, These photos (click here for the full album!) are also from that same ROPE house. Big deal you say….some under-age teen scantily dressed, took a photo by a squad-car. Look closer at the photo. Aside from this being a party AT the ROPE house, this (then only 19 years old) underage teen is holding a beer, she’s posing her crotch-shot on the top of an Elgin Squad with (then Lt.) Deputy Chief Bill Wolf clearly in the background watching.
I’ve said this at least 100 times over the last year. When you’re in the clique, you’re golden. God help you though if you’re not in their clique. They’ll shove you out, light you on fire and watch you burn while they’re enjoying a cool beer and an underage chick posing for photos. These photos were from 10/27/2007. Yeah, they’re 10 years old but the only thing that fact holds relevant, is again, what I’ve said 101 times now….When you’re in the clique, you’re golden.
A short time after these photos were taken for the pleasure of Lt. Bill Wolf, they threw one of their own into the pit and lit em on fire to protect another clique-member, officer Phil Brown. The officer then sacrificed was Lt. Sean Rafferty. Probably the best, most decorated & honest police officer on the department but now being accused of racism because he was chosen as the officer to conduct the internal investigation into Phil Brown’s clusterf*ck. This was their only way out, their smoke-screen so they executed their plan and the Daily Herald and Courier Newspapers of course did all they could to see he burned to a crisp, even if it was for no other reason than to protect the clique. Once the smoke and mirrors were pulled out, Rafferty’s flawless career was tarnished and Brown…..he went back to being a school liaison officer at Elgin High School where he is now.
What no one ever reported about that photograph of Rafferty and Wolek is that there was third person in that picture originally. Officer Al Young. A young-black officer who was cut out of the picture because…. how could they use that for calling him a racist, if he’s with a black officer? Since then, the newspapers have done all they could to enforce the falsehoods these people are handing down as facts, and our City Council just sits on their hands.
Fast-Forward to 2014. Jason Lentz bucked the system when reporting his Lt. Matt Udelhoven for taking inappropriate photos of a 12 year old female suicide victim. Udelhoven received no disciplinary actions for his tasteless act according to the City. He simply and quietly requested to be self-demoted back to Sgt. This alone has to tell you how absolutely vile this was, that they were forced to deal with it concerning one of their own now…..but without shame and certainly not the fan-fair of Rafferty, Lentz or Sharp. Unlike Lentz who’s name on the internet yeilds 100’s maybe 1000’s of returns linking him to a supposedly questionable post on Facebook but good luck finding the articles that reported that the City cleared him of any wrong-doing. Jason Lentz got his job back, with back-pay.
Next on their hit-list was officer Paul Sharp. Right up there with Rafferty and Lentz as being one of the best, he made someones’s sh*t-list and the next thing you know, he’s also being threatened with termination. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get the Kane County State’s Attorney to see it their way so they had to keep him on the payroll. Yeah, they stuck him behind a desk but I’m sure it kills them every day to still see him there! 😉
In January of this year, my first FOIA to the City was for emails to and from Jeff Swoboda for 2015 & 2016. (It was apparent over the year that they were not forthcoming with some documents I’d asked foor. Side-note: Previously in 2014 and 2015 I had FOIA’d the department for emails to and from Sean Stegall (then City Manager) and emails regarding Jason Lentz and Paul Sharp. The City had no problem returning these to me and in one case, because the number of emails, provided them on a disc.
Elgin Police Department is riddled with great cops who live under the thumb of 2 people and they can’t complain about anything because, who would they complain to? Most of their supervisors are so far up the Chief’s butt he no longer requires an endoscopy every year. At the stroke of a carefully worded “Press Release”, they’ll trash whoever tries to oppose them BS story and the papers will print it because after all, it’s an “official press release” from the Chief! Make no mistake, one hand washes the other when it comes to the 2 local papers.
It’s June 1st, 6 months after my first request and I still have not received what I asked for on January 1st of this year. In March, I even lessened my request to only be for emails for 1 year. As of today, I haven’t received those either. Complaints have been filed with the Illinois Attorney General’s office.
The Police Chief, and Deputy Chief apparently believe they’re above the law. Is it any wonder that former Elgin Police Department Commander Glenn Theriault UN-ARRESTED EPD Sgt. Mark Whaley? This is just a continuation of the standing “system” and the only people who have the ability to change it, are our Mayor, Dave Kaptain and our City Council. I’ve created an email address on Elginet that if you send one-email to, to are sending it to all of them, including the new City Manager Rick Kozal. That email address is ElginCityCouncil@elginet.com
PLEASE feel free to send them a message asking them for once and for all, to provide the open/transparent government, our State has guaranteed us BY LAW.
What the City of Elgin needs, is a Citizen Police oversight committee that looks into these questionable cases and calls out the falsehoods contained in them. Maybe call it the Elgin Crime Commission. Because they’re things this Administration is not telling you regarding crimes but….there’s no checks and balance system so they can get away with it forever if we let them. People on this committee must be something other than the bobbing heads that have been on other committees.