Public officials in Jerome don't want to talk about the village employing a police officer who quit the Riverton Police Department after a video caught her looking the other way while a fellow officer head-butted a suspect in a drunken driving case inside the police station.
Tricia Langan resigned from the Riverton department in February, after a video showed her turning away as fellow officer Grant Peterson grabbed a DUI suspect by the neck, then head-butted him. Peterson has been charged with two counts of aggravated battery and one count of official misconduct; drunken driving charges against the suspect were dismissed.
Langan has not been charged with a crime. The video shows Langan turning her back and walking away just as her colleague puts his hands around the suspect's neck and seconds before he head-butted the man. Sangamon County state's attorney Dan Wright says there wasn't sufficient evidence to prove Langan guilty of a crime. In addition to the February incident, she and Peterson are defendants in an unrelated federal lawsuit filed by a man who says that she and her partner beat him for no good reason in 2019, a few months before the head-butting episode.
Why does Jerome employ Langan? All but two of the village's seven trustees didn't return voicemails and emails. "I have no comment on Sgt. Langan," said trustee Phil Raftis, reached by telephone. "I think it's best that you speak to the attorney for the village or the village president," said trustee Kathy DeHart. "We did have meetings on it." DeHart said that discussions of Langan's employment occurred during executive sessions. She could not recall the dates. Village president Michael Lopez did not return messages sent over the weekend. Village attorney Jason Brokaw did not return a message sent this morning.
Southern View, also, employs Langan as a part-time police officer.
"She's been employed since October of 2018," said Southern View police chief Rick Wiese. "We've been in contact with our attorneys. Our attorney has explained that the only comment we can make right now is that she's on our part-time roster. It's an hourly rate."
Both Southern View and Jerome have histories of employing problem officers who'd landed in trouble elsewhere before being hired.
In Southern View, the village in 2013 paid $40,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a woman who said that she was groped by Officer J. Zeid Langan in his squad car less than two months after he was hired. It isn't clear whether Zeid Langan is related to Tricia Langan. The village hired Zeid Langan after he resigned from the Springfield Police Department when a prostitute reported that she'd performed a sex act on him in his patrol car and investigators found a used condom in Lincoln Park, where the woman said that it would be. Charged with official misconduct and battery for assaulting the woman in Southern View, Zeid Langan pleaded guilty to misdemeanors and promised that he never again would seek a job as a cop.
In Jerome, former police officer Steven Stirmell, hired while his father served as village president, got a job in 2009, after a woman complained about inappropriate advances he'd made while working as a Divernon cop. Prior to being hired by Divernon, Stirmell was dismissed from the Sangamon County sheriff's auxiliary unit, apparently after being accused of impersonating a full-fledged sheriff's deputy. While working for Jerome, Stirmell earned an award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving for racking up DUI arrests, but his law enforcement career ended in 2012, when he pulled over the daughter of former county Democratic Party chairman Todd Renfrow on suspicion of DUI. Stirmell tried walking back the arrest, saying that Renfrow's daughter might have had Listerine in her mouth that skewed breath-test results. Charged with official misconduct and obstruction of justice, Stirmell pleaded guilty to misdemeanors and promised to never again be a cop.
Shortly after Stirmell was charged, federal investigators in 2012 visited Jerome village offices, searching for evidence that the village had misallocated forfeiture money gained by virtue of a village police officer working on a federal drug task force outside the village. The feds were concerned that the village had wrongly transferred funds that were supposed to be used for law enforcement purposes into the village's general fund.
More recently, the village, due to budget woes, laid off its police chief in 2017, not long after 24/7 patrols ended, with village officials saying there wasn't enough money to sustain a round-the-clock police department.
Contact Bruce Rushton at email@example.com.