Questions remain after Harvey mayor holds meeting to explain removal of police chief

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HARVEY, Ill. — The mayor of Harvey offered more information Monday night on why he placed police chief Eddie Winters on unpaid leave.

Winters has only been in charge of Harvey police for eight months. Last week, Mayor Christopher Clark placed Winters on unpaid leave but wouldn’t explain why.

Winters told WGN he refused to promote two controversial police officers and this move was simply retribution. One of the officers, Justin Winston, was fired from the Harvey Police Department for incompetence a year ago. Sources told WGN News the second officer, Willie Giddens, was about to be fired for not filling out reports and crashing a number of squad cars before he resigned.

At the urging of the mayor, both were recently rehired. When the mayor reportedly wanted them to be promoted further, Winters pushed back after initially agreeing.

Aldermen said that did not please Mayor Clark.

Mayor Clark's office sent out a press release during the meeting, saying that the removal was a "peaceful end to a relationship that was simply not a good fit."

Residents demanded answers from the mayor at the meeting.

“You told us this man (Winters) was great, resume this long,” a resident said.

Winters said as far as he’s concerned, the city council had to confirm his appointment and they need to approve his removal.

“There is something to see here,” Winter said. “When I took on this job, I took it on because I had the understanding of who I was. When you talk about rehiring fired individuals, I’m going to do it the legal way.”

Winters said the real losers over the situation are the residents who were counting on reform.

Mayor Clark has temporarily appointed Rob Collins Jr. as the acting police chief.

Many residents hoped for transparency Monday night.

“One of the reasons that I put my support behind the current mayor is because is ran on reform,” said former alderman Keith Price. “Which basically he has duped the people. Been a dictator.”

In a statement released Monday night, said that it was a "peaceful end to a relationship that was simply not a good fit."

"It's unfortunate that Illinois law uses terms like "removal from office" for what is really a peaceful end to a relationship that was simply not a good fit. Chief Winters is a highly credentialed law enforcement official and I am confident that he will succeed in any endeavors he undertakes in the future. Every day, relationships end that are not a good fit. This is a non-story. There is no scandal here. The real story here is that significant reform continues to be underway in the City of Harvey. We have made strides in jump starting economic development. We have an intergovernmental agreement with Cook County for enhanced 911 service. We are cleaning up the town. We are working on street lights and street and sidewalk repairs. We are continuing to rebuild Harvey. That's the story."

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