On Monday, August 18, 2014, I was called into the office of the Carbondale City Manager, Kevin Baity. Mr. Baity presented me with a prepared letter of resignation and requested that I sign it. I declined to sign the letter, and Mr. Baity informed me that if I did not sign it, he would be terminating me immediately. I was given no statement of reasons for this decision, other than the “City needs to move in a different direction.” I have, of course, read the press release issued by the City of Carbondale that refers to issues that are “confidential” in nature as to the reasons for my dismissal, without further explanation. Oddly, the matter was apparently so confidential, that I could not be informed of the reason I was being asked to resign.
After nearly four years and an examination of my personnel file, I still have absolutely no idea what “confidential issues” Mr. Baity was referring to. To the extent that Mr. Baity’s press release suggests otherwise, I totally and categorically deny that I engaged in any acts that did anything other than reflect my total loyalty to the City of Carbondale while I was serving as its Chief of Police. I further state that I engaged in no acts of unethical, unprofessional, or immoral behavior, and to the extent that Mr. Baity’s press release suggests otherwise, I deny the accusation. Additionally, what personnel matter is so confidential that you cannot inform the person that is the subject of the personnel matter? It’s similar to a physician telling you he can’t share your diagnoses with you because it would be a HIPAA violation.
I began service as the Carbondale Chief of Police in 2009. At the time I began service for the City of Carbondale, Brad Cole was the Mayor and Allen Gill was the City Manager. I was reviewed every year by City Manager Gill and received glowing reviews. During Mr. Baity’s tenure as City Manager I never received a performance review. Communication from his office had been sporadic, at best. The only feedback that I received from Mr. Baity about my performance was his terse and confusing statements to me on August 18th, 2014 and in his subsequent press release.
I am aware, of course, that there have been several high-profile cases that have occurred during my tenure. The media has constantly sought information from my office, and there was some, limited, information that could be supplied to the media and the family members of the victims and to the public at large. I was given a verbal directive by Mr. Baity and the Jackson County State’s Attorney Michael Carr, that I was not to speak to the media about these cases. Mr. Baity informed me that he would take responsibility for all media activity related to those cases. Mr. Baity’s regular practice, however, was to offer a “no comment.” In many instances this left the victim’s family and friends, as well as many Carbondale citizens, feeling frustrated and confused. It eroded the legitimacy of the police department and caused rumors based in misinformation and conjecture. It appears that a disproportionate amount of this frustration and negative innuendo was directed at my office. I was obeying the lawful order of my superior and unable to defend myself or the hardworking men and women of the Carbondale Police Department. As a footnote, in light of Mr. Baity’s fallacious mismanagement of media relations and personnel matters, Mr. Baity was forced to resign, and the City of Carbondale hired a professional Public Relations Officer to ensure that important media events involving the City were handled professionally and appropriately.
I would like to speak directly to the Young and Varughese families. The details in your cases were never obfuscated in an attempt to cover up negligence or malfeasance. In fact, the Carbondale Police Department, under my direction, was one of the most transparent agencies in the state. Unfortunately, the law enforcement community is limited by law in what we are allowed to say or release about ongoing investigations. I have had an unblemished career of over thirty-five years in law enforcement. I am a Christian with incorruptible morals and ethical values. Despite what the conspiracy theorists perpetuate, I would never conspire, or even consider to participate, in a cover-up in any form or fashion. I have children of my own, and my heart has broken for the loss of yours. In the case of Molly Young, we immediately referred the incident to the Illinois State Police to ensure an unbiased investigation. And in the case of Pravin Varughese, Pravin was reported missing 21 hours after he disappeared. The Carbondale Police Department took every possible action to find Pravin as soon as we were notified.
I have served in law enforcement all of my professional life, and I hope to continue to serve in some further capacity in law enforcement. I sincerely wish the residents of the City of Carbondale well. I have enjoyed my time working in Carbondale. Over my years of service, I have learned that when you receive a lawful, ethical, and morally acceptable order from a superior, you obey that order and do your best to implement it, whether you personally agree with or not. You do not debate it with others or act in a way that conveys your displeasure with your superior.
I do not consider myself to be a person highly proficient in media relations, but being stuck in the middle, I felt compelled to issue this chronology and comment to protect my reputation that has been all but completely ruined through the actions of an ego-driven administrator who released me without cause when his inadequate media relations strategy failed.