Mayor on firing of police chief: 'It was clear a change in leadership was needed'

PAXTON — Mayor Bill Ingold still is not revealing the specific reasons he fired Bob Bane as Paxton’s police chief, but he did say during Tuesday night’s city council meeting that “it was clear a change in leadership was needed.”

Reading from a prepared statement, Ingold told the public that he made the decision to fire Bane, who had been the city’s police chief since May 2006, “based on both personal information and the input of others.”

“I do not intend to publicly address the reasons behind my decision, as I never discuss personnel decisions in public,” Ingold said. “I will say that it was clear a change in leadership was needed.”

Ingold fired Bane on the morning of Aug. 29. Until Tuesday, the mayor had not said anything publicly about why he did so.

Bane was in the audience at Tuesday’s council meeting but made no statements. Since being fired, Bane has declined to comment on the situation, instead directing all questions to his attorney, Ron Langacker of Urbana.

Ingold said that with the assistance of members of the council, he would begin the search for a permanent replacement.

In the meantime, former police captain Coy Cornett is serving as acting chief. The council voted 8-0 Tuesday night to concur with Ingold’s appointment of Cornett to the interim position.

Following a closed session, the council also voted unanimously to set Cornett’s wage as acting chief at $28 per hour. Based on a 40-hour work week, Cornett’s base salary is now $58,240 per year, and with longevity pay included, his total compensation becomes $63,482, according to Comptroller/Treasurer Julie Burgess. Cornett has been employed by the Paxton Police Department since Feb. 15, 1999, Burgess said.

At the time his employment was terminated, Bane’s base salary was $57,698, and his total compensation, with longevity pay included, was $66,353, Burgess said. Bane had been employed by the Paxton Police Department for 31 years, previously as captain and, before that, as a youth officer and patrolman.

Besides discussing Cornett’s salary in closed session, the council used the one-hour executive session to discuss what Ingold termed “imminent litigation, based on the finding that the city has been contacted by an attorney.”

In other news related to the police department, the council voted 8-0 to raise the wage given to part-time police officers employed in Paxton. Effective immediately, part-time officers will be paid $17.79 per hour, up from $14 per hour. Cornett said there are currently two part-timers employed by the police department.

Mike Wilson, chairman of the council’s public safety committee, recommended raising the pay to better reflect what other police departments in the area are paying part-timers. Wilson noted that Paxton had not changed its pay rate for part-time officers in “many, many, many years.”

Meanwhile, there are now six full-time employees of the police department, including Cornett, Sgt. Robert Yates, canine officer Tom Sink, patrolman Brandon Ryan, patrolman Stewart Stafford and patrolman Peter Nicolini.


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