Joseph Gliniewicz — the Illinois cop who committed suicide and tried to make it look like a heroic death in the line of duty — clashed for years with many of his own colleagues, who accused him of extraordinary misbehavior on and off the job, according to his personnel records.
Gliniewicz, 52, killed himself Sept. 1 and staged the scene to look as though he was killed by someone else, investigators say.
Thursday, investigators said Gliniewicz — a lieutenant who joined the Fox Lake Police Department in 1985 — also tried to find a a hit man to kill the village administrator, who he feared would discover that he had been embezzling from the department's Explorers Program for children.
According to his personnel file, it wasn't the first time Gliniewicz's behavior had created serious friction in the department.
As early as May 1988, Gliniewicz was found passed out in his pickup truck along a local highway, with the engine running and his foot on the gas pedal, according to a sheriff's incident report attached to his personnel records. The report quoted a Lake County deputy as saying "this was not the first time something like this has happened."
Otherwise, for the most part, Gliniewicz's record is filled with impressive reviews and commendations for about the first 15 years of his career.
In about 2000, the favorable citations dry up, although it should be noted that the file has several long gaps during which similar notices could have been entered.
It's about that time, however, that a string of serious incidents began to happen.
NBC Chicago reported that in a 2003 complaint — which a judge dismissed in 2005 — a female Fox Lake officer alleged that Gliniewicz called her to meet him in a hotel room on Valentine's Day 2000.
When she arrived, Gliniewicz gave her a box of chocolates, rubbed her shoulders and pressured her to perform oral sex, according to the complaint, which said Gliniewicz was her commanding officer at the time.
Attorneys for the city denied in court papers that the female officer was ever forced to do anything she didn't want to, but Gliniewicz was suspended for a month.
In 2002, Gliniewicz's position as commander of support services was abolished, effective the following year, because of "the recent course of events concerning you and the problems in the Communications Division." Those events aren't described.
A year later, in April 2003, a dispatcher, whose name has been redacted, filed a memo alleging that Gliniewicz made remarks "regarding putting 'bullets in my chest'" and saying no one would find her body because "there are a lot of lakes around here."
The dispatcher added that she knew that "Commander Gliniewicz was only joking with me at the time and would never harm me" — although "I don't think law enforcement officials should joke about misusing firearms," she said.
Later in April 2003, however, the same dispatcher filed a second memo. This one complained that Gliniewicz had pulled and appeared to have cocked his service weapon while they were in the radio room together.
"I felt very uncomfortable and thought maybe he was trying to intimidate me," she wrote. "Why does he do this after his recent comment about putting 'bullets in my chest'?"
Gliniewicz responded in a memo that he should have better documented the encounters to assist the dispatcher with getting "professional help."
Some of the most serious accusations are detailed in a stunning letter that members of the Fox Lake Police Department anonymously sent to then-Mayor Cindy Irwin in February 2009. The letter outlines almost two pages of complaints about the lieutenant, who they said had sent "morale within the department [to] an all-time low."
According to the letter, Gliniewicz had been suspended six times for "an inappropriate sexual relationship with a subordinate." It says officers often were warned by suspects whom they'd arrested that they should drop the arrests because they were "friends with Joey," referring to Gliniewicz, the letter said.
The letter goes on to accuse Gliniewicz of having:
- Grabbed women's breasts at more than one department Christmas party.
- Confronted officers in public about reports in their own files, apparently in violation of privacy regulations.
- Been thrown out of local bars by bouncers.
- Repeatedly visited "establishments within the village" with a woman who wasn't his wife.
- Walked out on a $300 bar tab.
- Used his squad car for personal errands — including once having driven his family to Wisconsin on vacation.
- Allowed civilians to fill their cars at the police gas station.
The anonymous police employees said Gliniewicz's behavior had "destroyed morale within the department and affected everyone's attitude." Gliniewicz's personnel file doesn't indicate whether any action was taken on his colleagues' letter.
Thursday, Fox Lake Mayor Donny Schmidt asked the community to wait for the results of the full investigation before jumping to conclusions. But he said it was clear that "the person that I thought I knew for 30 years had another side I wasn't aware of."