Troup says Lewin ‘interested’ in police chief position, but negotiations continue

Barry Cheyne before council

Barry Cheyne, a member of the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, speaks to aldermen during Monday's City Council meeting. | David Adam

QUINCY — Quincy Mayor Mike Troup says he’s talked with Jonathan Lewin about the offer made Monday to become the chief of the Quincy Police Department. However, he doesn’t yet have an answer.

Troup said after Monday night’s meeting of the Quincy City Council that he needed to speak with Barry Cheyne, one of the three members of the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, to “compare notes.”

“I think (Lewin) is interested, but he still has questions,” Troup said. “He understands he was selected, and he understands the six-month appointment. He understands all that. I don’t have anything signed from him that says, ‘Here’s my start date.’”

Cheyne presented Lewin’s name to the City Council for approval, and aldermen approved it unanimously (aldermen Parker Freiburg, R-3, and Tony Sassen, R-4 were not in attendance). The Board of Fire and Police Commissioners earlier Monday selected Lewin, a 28-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, to replace Rob Copley, who is retiring May 6 after 42 years with the Quincy Police Department and 18 as the chief of police. 

“I spoke with (Lewin) today. He was really excited about the opportunity to come to Quincy and be the police chief,” Cheyne said. “He has a very decorated background with the Chicago Police Department, and he has a thirst and knowledge for technology solutions and policing. I think he’s going to bring those kinds of talents, and maybe a fresh look, to policing in Quincy.”

Cheyne says outside candidate can bring fresh perspective

Cheyne said hiring an outside candidate to lead the police department has pros and cons.

“The advantages are you come in with a fresh perspective on how things need to get done,” he said. “He’s obviously going to collaborate and talk to a lot of members of city, the city’s leaders, and get their perspective. What are their concerns about police issues in Quincy? We’ve heard a lot about that during the community forum (for the three chief finalists) this past Thursday.

“The challenge … he is from the outside. He’s got to learn how to get around Quincy. He’s got a lot of people to help make those connections necessary.”

Cheyne said he expected a swearing-in ceremony for Lewin next month. Adam Yates, deputy chief of administrative services with the Quincy Police Department and one of the three finalists for the chief’s position, will serve as interim police chief starting Saturday until Lewin gets to Quincy. 

Troup said Lewin told him he would only need to give two weeks’ notice to get out of his current employment. He has worked since May 2020 as the public safety advisor for the First Responder Network, a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Commerce in Reston, Va.

Farha questions timing of background check, medical exams

The commissioners’ offer to Lewin a six-month probationary appointment is contingent on Lewin completing a background check and a medical screening. Troup said Lewin asked why commissioners didn’t deal with those issues before making a job offer.

“He said he doesn’t have a problem with the background check. He also said, ‘What are we trying to do here?’” Troup said.

Mike Farha, R-4, also questioned the timing of the background check and medical exams.

“This is a little bit of an abnormal process,” he said. “We’ve never approached it this way. I don’t quite understand why the candidates wouldn’t have had a background check, medicals, all that beforehand.

“In the future, if we’re going to have a fire and police commission, I think it’s incumbent on them to get the paperwork, background checks, all of that done ahead of time. I really do. This is, I mean, kind of really messed up. That’s my personal opinion. I don’t care how mad they get at me for saying that. … We’ve never had this happen before. It just seems to me it puts a lot of people under undue nervousness.”

Cheyne responded to Farha’s comments in an e-mail to local media Tuesday morning:

“The screening requirements for the new police chief follow the same process as a new QPD officer hiring (background, polygraph, psychological exam and full medical screening).  All of these screening actions are subsequent to the officer taking a written test (an assessment in Lewin’s case) and interviews (stakeholder and commission interviews in Lewin’s case) and a certification list (appointment for Lewin) being published. 

We’re not going to commit city resources and the QPD’s time and effort to conduct a background until these steps are completed.  To suggest a background investigation on 15 police chief candidates is not fiscally prudent and doesn’t comply with the requirements of an original appointment as addressed in our ordinance and rules and regulations of the board.

So Aldermen (sic) Farha’s comments are off base and the Mayor’s comment as to we do backgrounds first for new police officers is inaccurate.” 

Aldermen adopted a resolution to appoint Maggie Hoyt as supervisor of Quincy Township to fulfill the vacancy created by the resignation of Cindy Brink. Hoyt has worked for Brink for the past three years.

“I look forward to trying my very best to fill the shoes (Brink) has left behind,” Hoyt said. “Her service to the township for the last 33 years has been invaluable to the community. I look forward to continuing to run the general assistance office with the integrity that she has.”

Maggie Hoyt is sworn in as supervisor of Quincy Township by City Clerk Laura Oakman during Monday’s City Council meeting. | David Adam

In other action

Aldermen also approved petitions from:

  • AirMedCare Network, requesting permission to have the Air Evac helicopter at St. Peter’s School from 10 to 11 a.m. May 11.
  • St. Peter Church, requesting to hold a raffle and have the bond requirement waived from May 31 through August 28. 
  • The Dock, requesting permission to waive liquor ordinances on May 14 for the American Downtown Classic Car & Art Show.

Aldermen also:

  • Appointed Catherine Daily to the Sister City Commission for a three-year term.
  • Proclaimed May 1-7 as “Professional Municipal Clerks Week,” May 5 as a “Day of Prayer” and the month of May as “Preservation Month.” 
  • Approved a two-year agreement with A Clean Slate, owned by Tammy Riley of Hannibal, Mo., to provide custodial services for the Quincy Police Department at a cost of $28,797 per year. 
  • Approved paying $13,399.41 to pay Gem City Ford for engine repairs to a bus.

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