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Antioch police chief on leave as officials probe attack claim
By Paul Biasco | Daily Herald Staff

James Foerster

 

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Published: 8/4/2010 12:00 AM

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Antioch Police Chief James Foerster is on paid administrative leave while officials investigate accusations he tried to attack state representative candidate Scott Pollak, village officials confirmed Tuesday.

Village Attorney Robert Long said the village has hired an outside attorney to handle the internal investigation. Officials with the Lake County state's attorney's office also said the matter was referred to them by Antioch police, and they are investigating.

"The main thing here is making sure the process is as fair as it can possibly be for anyone who has anything to do with this," Long said.

Pollak, running as a Democrat in the state House District 61 race, said Foerster had to be restrained by Antioch Mayor Larry Hanson and a police officer during the July 27 meeting in the chief's office.

Hanson said the matter is under internal review and he could not comment further. Long said Foerster was placed on paid administrative leave the following day. Foerster could not be reached for comment.

Pollak said the meeting stemmed from a confrontation earlier that day between a police officer and Pollak's 18-year-old son and two 16-year-old friends over whether a permit was needed to campaign door-to-door in the Hidden Creek subdivision.

Pollak said the meeting became very heated, and Foerster rose from behind his desk and "physically ran out of the chair" toward Pollak with his fists clenched.

Pollak said Foerster was restrained from behind before reaching him. Foerster, who has been chief since February 2006, then left the room.

"The biggest thing is having a police chief come after me in front of two minors," Pollak said.

Pollak, running against incumbent Republican JoAnn Osmond for the District 61 seat, said he went to the police station that night to file a complaint against the police officer who confronted his son and his friends while they were campaigning.

He said the officer told the group they needed a permit, which the teens disputed. When Pollak's son called him to explain the situation, Pollak said he could hear the officer yelling and using profanity. When he arrived at the scene, the officer had left, but his son had copied down the license plate number.

"We have gone canvassing for (state) Senator (Michael) Bond and (U.S. Rep.) Melissa Bean," Pollak said. "We already knew no permit was needed."

Pollak drove to the police department to file a complaint against the officer. He was accompanied by his wife, son and the two 16-year-olds.

The meeting to discuss the complaint took place about 9 p.m. in the chief's office and included Foerster, Hanson, Village Administrator Jim Keim and three police officers, Pollak said.

Several commanders will be rotating to fill the role of police chief while the investigation continues, he said.