MONTICELLO, Ill. (WCIA) – The mayor of Monticello made a big announcement Monday night. John Carter has resigned as police chief.
We’ve been investigating his employment status for two weeks, but it took until now to get an answer. Documents we obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show Carter took eight sick days between October 15 and 28. That’s right around the time we started asking questions.
As for Monday, business was as usual at Monticello’s city council meeting. Except for one thing – the police chief was absent, again. Then, at the very end of the mayor’s report, Larry Stoner slipped in two resignation announcements. The first was Alderwoman Tammy Sebens.
“And Monticello Police Department Chief John Carter, effective immediately,” Stoner said.
After two weeks of asking city officials and Carter himself, we finally have an answer. John Carter is no longer Monticello’s chief of police.
“I would like to thank both of them for their service to our community,” Stoner said.
That was the only mention of Carter the entire meeting. So, I brought him up to Stoner directly. Stoner said he had “no comments at this time.” But after nearly a decade of service, Carter’s sudden departure raises questions.
“May I ask when he resigned?” I asked.
“It’s a personnel issue, I don’t have any comments on the matter,” Stoner said.
We still want to know: why did Carter resign? Why was the city quiet when I asked why Lieutenant Terry Jones filled in for him at the last meeting?
Now, we know Jones is the acting chief. The mayor addressed him as such Monday. But we don’t know why it’s taken this long to clarify the matter.
It started with an anonymous tip that said Carter was asked to step down mid-October, and led to seven Freedom of Information Act requests. In one of them, I asked for any and all communication on publicly or privately-owned devices by city council members, Larry Stoner, and/or City Administrator Terry Summers discussing John Carter.
My request was denied, because the FOIA officer said no records could be located. I responded Thursday via email saying: “you mean to tell me there has never been any communication between city officials about the Monticello Police Chief John Carter? Withholding such phone, email, fax, text, notes, and memos would be a violation of Illinois FOIA law, 5 ILCS 140.”
I have not heard back from the FOIA officer.
Additional information I requested under the Freedom of Information Act was denied. Over the past couple of weeks, I asked for documents relating to Carter’s resignation, termination, and/or leave of absence. Plus, any separation and/or severance agreements. The city claimed those records were preliminary and exempt from disclosure.