Fox Lake task force commander says he is qualified to run Gliniewicz case

ABC7 I-Team Exclusive
FOX LAKE, Ill. (WLS) -- For nearly seven weeks Lake County Major Crime Task Force commander George Filenko has been in the hot seat since Sept. 1 when Fox Lake police lieutenant Joe Gliniewicz was found shot and killed.

Filenko and the task force he leads have been in charge of finding out what happened.

They still claim not to know whether it was homicide or suicide, or something else.

"Personally I've been involved in a lot of homicide investigations. The number is nearing 200," Filenko says.

During Filenko's 10 years as task force commander, he says the group has solved 90 percent of its cases.

Despite that, since the shooting death of Lt. Gliniewicz, Filenko's qualifications have been questioned by some I-Team viewers and some in law enforcement. How could the chief of this tiny police department in Round Lake Park, population 7,500, have the expertise to oversee major cases?

"My responsibility is to be the head, let's say, administrator, oversee the operations, assign effectively responsibilities to the assistant commanders and the group supervisors, on a case to case basis," he says.

State regulators say Filenko is certified as a lead homicide investigator, even though their records list a modest number of law enforcement courses that he's taken.

"This is probably about 2 percent of my training history," he says. "There are certain approved homicide classes that the state of Illinois has approved as being qualified to give you the credential of being a lead homicide investigator and I've taken those."

When the I-Team asked to interview Filenko about his history, he came prepared with a binder full of paperwork.

"My training records speak for themselves," he says, flipping through the binder. "Staff and command training, homicide training, officer involved shooting training, death investigation training. Probably every advanced homicide school there is."

Communities pay to participate in the task force; Filenko was appointed by a Lake County law enforcement panel. He and his officers are paid their regular salaries from whatever department they work for.

"As our unit stands, I believe we have over a dozen certified lead homicide investigators," Filenko says.

Filenko says the attention to a heater case like the Gliniewicz killing is understandable but that those who suggest he and the task force aren't qualified are off base.

"I think that criticism is a little unfair and I understand it," he says. "People want cases brought and solved almost immediately. Unfortunately in real life that's not the situation."

Task force members have a mission and a goal according to Filenko: to bring professionalism and ethics to their cases, along with sensitivity for the victims. Victims in the Fox Lake case would be members of Lt. Joe Gliniewicz' family.
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