Evergreen Park Chief Evoy Forgets Union Roots
BAD MORALE MEANS BAD PRESS
EVERGREEN PARK Police Chief Thomas Evoy is a veteran street cop who spent his entire career patrolling the tree-lined streets of his South Suburban town, chasing the bad guys into either the next town or the big city, and generally going along with whatever program happened to be in place at any given time.
Even when he was an original union member in good standing, Evoy did not do anything to either distinguish himself in service to his fellow cops, nor was he known for creating problems on the job. In short, he was a guy who garnered his promotions one after another by regularly showing up, smiling and shaking hands in all the right places, and biding his time.
THEN, AFTER Mayor Anthony Vacco appointed Evoy Chief two years ago, the real Napoleon of Kedzie Avenue came out.
Cops who had known and been cordial with—if not close to—Evoy for decades, report that the once affable fellow worker and fellow union member had suddenly become
“Terrible Tommy,” the Dictator of Detectives. Evoy, who had previously known everyone in the Department and had always had a ready “hello” for anyone, whether uniform or suit or village pol, now found himself becoming more and more isolated.
In fact, one Evergreen Park patrol officer said he has not spoken to Evoy “outside the narrowest possible definition of police business” for the past two years—even though the two have known each other for a dozen years or more. To say the Evergreen Park Police Department has a serious morale problem is to state the obvious.
AND THAT’S JUST what was stated in late May of this year. Three veteran Evergreen Park cops, Detective Sergeant Dennis O’Dowd, Sergeant Fred Kriel and Officer Mike Dwyer, discussed their Department’s history and morale problem with Combined Counties Police Association staff representative Joseph Longmeyer, also an editor of the union newspaper.
About a week later, a roundup story on the history of the union experience in Evergreen Park appeared, with specific reference to the morale problem in that Department. (Read the story that started it all.)
The officers quoted made it very clear that there was a “before Evoy” and “after Evoy” distinction, with labor relations and general working conditions being lots better before. In fact, it was hoped that by reporting on the morale problem in the union paper, which goes to about 18,000 law enforcement professionals throughout Illinois, that Chief Evoy would be prompted to make some effort to open communications between himself and the officers he supervises.
INSTEAD, EVOY saw the article, freaked out at the suggestion that there could be anything lacking in morale in his department, consulted his “hired gun” attorney and suspended the three officers who had the nerve to speak to a representative of the union that Evergreen Park cops have belonged to since 1969. In drafting his suspension order, Evoy cited the union rep by name, accused the officers of conducting personal business on duty, charged that they received visitors at the station for non-duty related purposes, and said their conduct “adversely effects the moral” of the Department.
One Evergreen Park cop who saw the charges said the reason Evoy doesn’t think he has a morale problem in his Department is obvious. “It’s because he doesn’t know how to spell the word.”
Another thing that’s obvious is that no Chief of Police whose gun is actually loaded—whose mind is functioning clearly—would ever dispute the right of a union representative to speak to union members in a setting where union people have been meeting with their members for the better part of 30 years.
Also, because the suspensions Evoy levied are without pay, this act of raw arrogance can cost O’Dowd, Kriel and Dwyer several thousand dollars in real money. Because the officers have appealed the suspensions to the Village Police and Fire Commissioners Board (with representation by the CCPA legal staff) it is not a foregone conclusion that Evoy’s suspensions will be upheld.
BUT NEVERTHELESS, “this is the kind of foolish and childish abuse of power that not just Suburban Chiefs, but Chicago Police Department brass and police command personnel everywhere must be stopped from inflicting on their subordinates,” CCPA President John J. Flood said.
“We had a similar case of abuse of authority by a Chief about six months ago in Wheeling,” Flood said, “and now that Chief, Thomas Haeger, will be leaving the Department in the next few weeks. We think it’s no coincidence that the Wheeling Chief is leaving after we challenged him over a ridiculous suspension problem that was just as mindlessly arrogant as Evoy’s heavy-handed blunders in Evergreen Park,” Flood said.
Haeger suspended two Wheeling cops for talking squad to squad—which is something police in virtually every jurisdiction in the country do on a regular basis.
CHIEF EVOY’S already precarious morale problems of last May were not made any worse by the fact that they were reported on in the union newspaper in June. But, when he over-reacted with his suspension strategy, whatever remained of Evergreen Park police morale vanished like wadcutters at a training shoot.
Then, as if Evoy hadn’t garnered enough bad press in the Illinois Police and Sheriff’s News, the Daily Southtown carried two recent news articles and an editorial that made him look like some kind of power-mad Palooka with a police badge.
What’s next for Chief Thomas Evoy? The Tribune? Time Magazine?