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Thursday, Jan. 5, 2006 09:05 pm

Veteran cop quits

Cites concern about police misconduct, fear of retaliation

Springfield Police Department’s most experienced narcotics officer resigned unexpectedly this week, saying that he feared retribution for exposing the misconduct of other officers. On Tuesday, Sgt. Ron Vose delivered a two-page letter outlining his concerns to Mayor Tim Davlin’s office and left another copy with Chief Don Kliment. In the letter, Vose claimed that he was transferred from his position as a supervisor in the Criminal Investigations Division to patrol shortly after submitting a 20-page memo alleging that administrative and criminal violations had been committed by certain officers known to have “credibility issues.”
Although Vose did not name the officers in his letter, several sources inside SPD confirmed that Vose has been critical of SPD Detectives Jim Graham and Paul Carpenter. Last summer, SPD turned Vose’s 20-page memo over to the Illinois State Police Division of Internal Investigation. That probe is ongoing, with no completion date promised. But in October, Carpenter was placed on administrative leave and Graham was transferred from what was then called the major-case unit into general investigations. Contacted by phone Tuesday night, Vose declined to comment, saying that his resignation doesn’t take effect until Jan. 19. “I’m still employed by the department, and I really can’t [comment],” Vose said. “My resignation speaks for itself; that’s all I can really say.”
However, another officer — a supervisor in the Criminal Investigations Division who spoke on the condition of anonymity — defended Carpenter and Graham. “They’re great guys. They’re hardworking detectives,” the supervisor said. “They feel that they were unfairly attacked by Ron Vose and his accusations. These two have not been interviewed [by ISP]. These guys have been left in the dark.” Vose spent much of his 27 years with SPD working undercover drug operations, often with task forces composed of state or federal law-enforcement agencies. With one task force, he negotiated a deal that resulted in a 100-pound haul of cocaine. In July 2002, he took charge of SPD’s narcotics unit and over the next two summers staged large-scale sting operations resulting in more than 80 arrests. According to his resignation letter, Vose has been complaining to Kliment about alleged misconduct since June 2004. In April, soon after speaking to the mayor about his concerns, Vose discovered packing boxes with his name on them left outside his office door and interpreted it as an act of retribution. “This was an apparent message for me to clean out my office,” his letter stated. He was subsequently disciplined “without cause” he wrote, and transferred to patrol. “These actions were obvious retaliation and were meant to teach me a lesson about what happens to an officer who exposes police misconduct,” Vose wrote. “This will also serve as a notice to anyone else who thinks about reporting misconduct.” Kliment denied retaliating against Vose. The chief suggested that there’s another side to the story but declined to comment further, citing signs of pending litigation. Vose mentioned several times in his letter that he has retained a lawyer. Vose’s attorney, Howard Feldman, acknowledged that Vose’s transfer to patrol did not cost him any rank or pay. Still, Feldman says, the move punished Vose. “He lost the status of being a supervisor in an investigations unit — something he had done well over a long number of years — and his career was cut short,” Feldman said. Rumors of Vose’s allegations against fellow officers have rippled through the department for months. The apparent rift between the former narcotics supervisor and the chief has puzzled veteran officers, who recall a time when Kliment and Vose were both active in the patrolmen’s union, often working together for the same cause. For the past decade or so, they have lived next door to each other, and their families have been friends. Vose resigned on his 49th birthday, a year shy of the age requirement for retirement. Consequently, he won’t be eligible for full benefits until 2007. “Even though my pension benefits will be significantly reduced by this decision, I feel that this is the only way to avoid additional retaliation,” he wrote. Davlin’s only response was a brief statement issued by e-mail: “I am saddened to learn that the city is losing the services of Sergeant Vose. He is a personal friend of mine and has been a valued member of the Springfield Police Department for over 27 years. He will truly be missed.”
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