By SAMANTHA PIDDE
The City of Mount Carroll finds itself in the process of looking for a new police chief.
After nine years as Mount Carroll's chief of police, Fred Cass has resigned to accept the position of assistant police chief in Stockton.
Mayor Carl Bates informed the Mount Carroll City Council of Cass's resignation during its Tuesday, July 23, meeting, saying, "It's sad to see him go. What are you going to do, say he can't go?”
Cass told the Carroll County Mirror-Democrat that resigning and pursuing the new position was a "very tough decision."
"I can't say anything bad about Mount Carroll because I love it here," Cass said.
Cass and his family reside in Mount Carroll and he does not foresee that changing at this time. He said he will miss interacting with many of the community members and the area school children.
"I appreciated the opportunity to be the chief and connect with all the citizens and the students at West Carroll (and) the staff," Cass said.
However, the police chief said this is a better opportunity for his family and he is looking forward to a new department and new challenges. Mayor Bates also said the new position is a good move for Cass.
During a special Mount Carroll Police Committee meeting Monday morning, July 29, Ald. Doug Bergren, Ald. Jeff Elliott, Ald. Mike Risko and Mayor Bates discussed possible ways to replace Cass.
According to Illinois State Statutes, Mayor Bates is allowed to appoint a police chief of his choosing and the mayor said he had a potential candidate. However, Bates told the committee he wants to have the council's approval on such a decision.
The mayor said another option is to appoint an interim police chief and advertise for the full-time chief’s position. However, Bates said that process could see the city interviewing candidates until September.
Police Committee members asked Cass when his last day on the job will be, and he said, "It's flexible, but it's coming quick.”
He said his first day in Stockton is Aug. 5 and while he is willing to remain in Mount Carroll on a part-time basis for a brief period, he said at the least, Mount Carroll needs to select an interim police chief soon.
Mayor Bates' said his recommendation was to appoint Scott Marth, who is the police chief in Chadwick. The mayor reminded aldermen that Marth was the city's second choice during the interview process nine years ago when Cass was hired. Ald. Elliott noted that Marth seems more than qualified for the position.
However, when Elliott asked about the possibility of promoting a current member of the Mount Carroll Police Department, Officer Dennis Asay spoke up that he would like to be considered for the position. The Mount Carroll Police Department currently has two full-time officers (Asay and Gerry Bennett) and six part-timers.
"I'm interested, as I was nine years ago," Asay told the Police Committee.
Bates told Asay that he does not have the required full-time police certification, but Asay responded that he has a full-time waiver. However, Cass explained that while Asay has a waiver, he never went through the academy, which Cass said is required.
Bates suggested the city consider appointing an interim chief until a decision is made and said Lanark Police Chief Matt Magill, who lives in Mount Carroll, has offered to be the interim chief.
Asay questioned why he was not considered for the interim position, saying, "I've given this city more years.”
Mayor Bates said he had attempted to reach Asay by phone, but Asay did not return his call, telling Asay at Monday’s meeting, "You could have said something to the chief. You could have written me a letter. You didn't do any of that."
Asay replied that he did not have to do any of that since the decision had apparently already been made. Bates emphasized that no decision has been made nor is he trying to "railroad" anyone.
Bates said he was reluctant to continue discussing the matter in open session, but the meeting's agenda did not legally permit a closed session. He also wanted to have the entire council present for the discussion. Bates suggested the committee adjourn to a later date.
Ald. Elliott said a meeting to discuss both candidates (Marth and Asay), as well as any others that may contact the city, was a good idea.
A Police Committee meeting was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 5, at City Hall. The agenda will include discussions on an interim chief, the police chief position and a closed session.
The current base annual salary for Chief Cass at Mount Carroll, excluding overtime, is $51,600, or $24.81 per hour.