Former Flossmoor police chief claims racial discrimination played role in firing by mayor: lawsuit

Sarah Schulte Image
Monday, March 11, 2024
Former Flossmoor police chief claims race played role in firing: suit
Former village of Flossmoor Police Chief Jerel Jones has claimed racial discrimination played a role in his firing by the mayor in a lawsuit.

FLOSSMOOR, Ill. (WLS) -- Flossmoor's former police chief is now taking his old employer to court.

The former chief is claiming racial discrimination played a role in his firing.

Jerel Jones was looking forward to serving a long career as Flossmoor's first African American police chief. He was sworn in almost a year ago, after a long career with the Macomb, Illinois Police Department.

"When the opportunity came up to return to an area close to where I grew up, to become a new police chief in Flossmoor, I was thrilled, absolutely thrilled," Jones said.

But, his excitement came to an end last week when the Flossmoor mayor fired him.

In a letter released to residents, Mayor Michelle Nelson wrote in part, "There have been serious operational and administrative lapses under his watch. In totality, I believe these lapses mean that our residents are not receiving the level of public safety services they expect and deserve."

Jones denies any lapses, and filed a lawsuit in federal court, accusing the village of Flossmoor and its village manager, Bridget Wachtel, of race discrimination and retaliation.

"He raised concerns that as a Black chief, he's being held to a higher standard than the other department heads, and an unreasonable set of standards that in fact set him up to fail," Jones' attorney Cass Casper said.

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The lawsuit quotes a performance memo from Wachtel, where she criticizes the way Jones speaks.

"She says, 'you did not speak plainly or answer questions directly. You talk around questions,'" Cass said during a news conference Monday.

The suit cites other examples that Jones and his attorney say have nothing to do with his law enforcement performance. They are encouraging the village to release all memos.

"I submit to you a full reading of those memos does not show one iota of a failing in law enforcement duties, rather it shows race-based hypercritical micro-managerial criticisms I outlined before," Cass said.

The village of Flossmoor provided no response to the lawsuit or requests to release all memos.

Prior to Flossmoor, Jones worked his way through the ranks to become Macomb's first Black police chief, and he said there were never any issues with other city administrators.

"I had the absolute full support of the Macomb PD. The mayor, the city administrator and the community was an absolute support system," Jones said.

Former Chief Jones said he is willing to drop the lawsuit if the village of Flossmoor publicly apologies to him, and gives him his job back.