South Beloit police chief found guilty of misconduct, argument ensues between alderman and reporter
By Jim Hagerty
An area police chief was suspended without pay Saturday, Jan. 22, after a commission found him guilty of misconduct.
South Beloit Police Chief Waylon Weber was found guilty of abusing his power as a police officer, using an unauthorized restraint (choke hold) and leaving work while on the clock.
The verdict was handed-down by the South Beloit Fire and Police Commission, which suspended Weber for 14 days.
As long as he’s chief of police, Weber will not be required to take two weeks off. According to statute, the commission does not have authority to suspend the police chief. However, if Weber ever takes a position as an officer, he must serve the suspension.
The commission’s verdict stems from a February 2009 incident at the Beloit, Wis. home of Weber’s ex-wife.
During a shift, Weber, then a sergeant, received a call from his ex-wife after she caught a 17-year-old male having sex with his underage daughter. Weber drove to the residence and confronted the boy.
On his way to the scene, Weber radioed 911 dispatchers and said he was leaving his jurisdiction to do a “follow-up,” but did not disclose the nature of the call.
Weber admitted to grabbing the 17-year-old by the neck while lecturing him.
Weber said in earlier reports he acted as a father when he grabbed the teen and not as a police officer. The boy and his mother decided not to pursue battery charges against Weber.
The ruling also stated Weber used a squad car for personal purposes and made untruthful statements to county emergency officials.
Shortly after the incident, Weber was reportedly reprimanded with a verbal warning by then-Chief Tom Fearn.
South Beloit Mayor Randy Kirichlow filed the misconduct complaint against Weber Oct. 15, 2010, a week after Weber was appointed police chief and more than 18 months after Hearn’s reported warning.
The commission also found nothing in Weber’s employment file that indicated he had been issued a verbal warning.
“(Weber) was already reprimanded,” South Beloit Commissioner Pam Clifton said. “We were told as a council he had been reprimanded with a verbal (warning). The commission wouldn’t have found anything in the officer’s file because those things are removed after six months. Part of my problem with has been, ‘Why is thing being brought up days before were are supposed to make Weber our new chief?’ It was unfair what was done to the officer.”
Weber was appointed police chief after a 3-2 vote by the city council. Kirichlow entered one of two votes against the appointment.
According to Saturday’s ruling, the commission considered the personal nature of the incident and Weber’s “exemplary service as a member of the South Beloit Police Department,” in reaching a verdict.
It is not known if Weber plans to appeal the suspension.
Winnebago County Sheriff investigates altercation complaint
After the commission announced Weber’s suspension, Clint Wolf, an editor with the Beloit Daily News, began asking questions about the ruling. South Beloit Commissioner Bob Stone did not agree with the reporter’s questions and became involved in an argument with Wolf.
According to an incident report, Stone’s son joined the exchange to defend his father and shouted obscenities at the newsman.
A witness said Commissioner Stone poked Wolf in the chest with his finger and that Stone’s son shoved Wolf out of the room. Others reported that Wolf left on his own and was not pushed.
Wolf declined to give details about the argument but did confirm that he was involved. Commissioner Stone could not be reached for comment.
As of press time, no charges were filed.
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