MONTICELLO, Ill. (WCIA) – It’s been a week since we started asking one simple question in Monticello. Who’s leading the police department? But city officials still won’t answer it.
Reliable sources tell us John Carter may no longer be the chief of police. After a week of unanswered calls and emails and a door shut in our face, we sent three Freedom of Information Act requests to the city. Two were denied. The documents we did receive don’t tell us much. So, we reached out to city officials for clarity, but they’re staying quiet.
“I didn’t tell you this, but the police chief of Monticello has been asked to step down. No one knows why.” Two sentences sparked a week of probing. Monticello taxpayers have questions, and thier own public officials won’t answer them. An anonymous tip came in Monday, October 24, the same day a different officer gave the chief of police report at Monticello’s city council meeting.
That’s just one clue the city won’t comment on. Two days later, we reached out to Mayor Larry Stoner and City Administrator Terry Summers. Summers emailed back twice, saying “the chief of police is still employed.”
That was the last time we heard from him, and we’re still waiting for Stoner’s response.
And just because John Carter wasn’t fired – doesn’t mean he’s still coming to work. So, we requested any documented communications between the chief and city officials. The FOIA officer denied the request, saying no records were located. But when she denied our next request – which asked for documents pertaining to Carter’s termination, resignation and/or administrative leave – it wasn’t because no records could be located. Instead, she gave three reasons why they can’t be released.
One exemption concerns “preliminary drafts, notes and recommendations…” Another exemption claimed communications between a public body — like the city or Carter himself — and an attorney or auditor representing the public body can’t be released. Lastly, the response noted closed city council meeting minutes are exempt. But we’re not done digging.
Thursday, we tried to contact Stoner and Summers again. Neither responded. The Monticello Police Facebook Page was no longer available that day. But, we will continue asking questions until we can bring you some answers.