Timothy Swanson, who is also chief of Momence and works for the Kankakee County sheriff’s office, faces an investigation into a police helicopter program he began while chief of southwest suburban Countryside in 2005 and took to Kankakee County in 2009.
In an emergency phone meeting this morning, the board voted to put Swanson on a leave of absence from his post until an outside investigation was completed, said the association’s executive director, John Kennedy.
“We wanted to separate him from the issue and let our own investigators do our own independent study on this, to come to our own conclusions,” Kennedy told the newspaper.
The Tribune investigation found Swanson partnered with a convicted felon to run the program and branch out into side, for-profit businesses. One of those businesses was then paid grant money by Swanson for helicopter equipment, despite grant rules that forbid such arrangements, records showed.
Countryside officials also have raised questions of possible misspending and insider deals, saying in a civil court filing that Swanson committed “extensive wrongdoing” while there.
Separately, federal and state authorities have taken away two helicopters and equipment they had loaned to Swanson’s program. Inspectors cited complaints the helicopters lacked key records to document they’d been adequately used and maintained, but authorities characterized portions of the inspectors’ reports as too sensitive to provide to the Tribune during the pending investigation.
Swanson declined to comment for the original article and did not immediately respond to a request for comment this afternoon. Neither did the Kankakee County sheriff’s office. In its last public comment, the sheriff’s office noted it was aware of the criminal investigation but had not suspended Swanson.