Former Island Lake chief nominated for old post

ISLAND LAKE – The arrest and expunged court records for the man slated to become Island Lake's next police chief have raised concerns for at least one village trustee.

Village President-Elect Charles Amrich, who nominated Don Bero, 65, of Wauconda, to return as Island Lake's police chief, said the case wasn't a concern at all for him.

The board will consider Bero's appointment, as well as the appointment of new village attorneys, at its Thursday meeting, the first meeting of the new board after the April election. The appointments are assessed on an annual basis.

Bero served as the village's police chief the last two years of Amrich's last term, from July 2003 to December 2005. Amrich was Island Lake's village president from 1985 to 2005.

"He has an extensive background in law enforcement," Amrich said. "The community liked him very much. He was very responsive to the people in town. He would go to the businesses and talk to people. I want to bring that friendliness back to town."

Bero was a police officer in the western suburb of Broadview for 25 years. After retiring, he worked part time for Island Lake as an officer and code enforcement officer before being appointed chief.

Since leaving Island Lake in 2005, Bero has been a McHenry County deputy, working in the civil process division. He retired in March.

It was after his time in Broadview but before he joined the Island Lake department, in April 1998 when he was 49 years old, that Bero was arrested by the Wauconda Police Department in connection with an aggravated assault.

He was given court supervision and had the case expunged around 2000, Bero said.

It still raises questions for Trustee Shannon Fox, she said.

"There's four witness write-ups saying that he did this, that he pulled a gun on these guys, including from two uninterested parties," Fox said. "It still makes me worried."

According to the statements given to Wauconda police, two men pulled over after a black pickup truck flashed its lights at them. The driver, later identified as Bero, got out and showed them a police badge and pointed a gun at them.

When police asked Bero about the incident, he told them he believed the two were casing his father's house for a potential home invasion, according to the police report. He showed them a pellet gun and the badge, which identified him as a retired Broadview police officer.

The pellet gun did not match the description given by the two men, the report said.

Bero declined to elaborate on what happened in 1998, saying it's a nonissue and was never brought up the first time he was hired as police chief.

Fox also raised concerns about the lack of an interviewing process. The trustees found out about the nomination when the agendas were sent out Monday. They have not received a résumé or other supplemental information, she said.

Several others had indicated they would like to be chief, Amrich said, but he decided on Bero.

While Amrich was running to replace Debbie Herrmann as village president, Amrich vowed to get rid of the village's current chief, William McCorkle. McCorkle and the village's legal representation have resigned effective Thursday.

During the election, he told Bero – an old college friend – that he'd like to reinstate him as police chief, Bero said. While Bero supported Amrich during the campaign, he said he didn't do any knocking on doors and did not make any campaign contributions.

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