Showdown Brewing Between Lake County Sheriff and Local Police Club
In Chicago’s northern suburbs, the sheriff is trying to make an unusual stop.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office claims the local Fraternal Order of Police, which calls itself the "Fraternal Order of Police Lake County Sheriff's Police Illinois Lodge 66," is illegally using the words "sheriff's police" to promote its organization.
Unlike in Chicago, where FOP Lodge 7 is a union organization for Chicago police officers, the Lake County FOP is a private organization serving as a social club to all law enforcement in the county -- including sheriff's deputies.
Lodge 66 President Darryl Lewallen claims the organization is "acting the (same) way we were (when) chartered in 1973" and has no intention of changing the name.
In June, Undersheriff Raymond Rose increased the pressure by telling the organization to step away from the name:
“Please cease and desist using the Lake County Sheriff’s Department in conjunction with the FOP Lodge #66 in any future advertisements, solicitations and on your website,” Rose said in a letter to the Lake County FOP.
But the lodge hasn’t stopped.
Just last week, Lodge 66 issued a press release for a charity poker event to benefit Toys for Tots, the Special Olympics and the Easter Seals.
The advertisement prompted the sheriff’s office to issue its own press release to disassociate from the event.
“We’ve gotten calls from people who’ve donated, thinking they’ve donated to the sheriff’s office,” said sheriff’s office spokesman Christopher Covelli. “And when they find out they’ve donated to a social organization they feel completely duped and mislead.”
Lewallen, who retired after "about 25 years" at the Lake County Sheriff's Office, said his group only started taking heat from the sheriff’s office after it declined to endorse the current sheriff, Mark Curran.
Illinois Fraternal Order of Police State Lodge President Chris Southwood said he agrees with the Lake County FOP.
“The name of the Lake County Sheriff's Police FOP Lodge # 66 is the same as when Sheriff Curran was a member of this private, fraternal organization and participated with his fellow members in the same charitable activities he now seeks to sabotage,” Southwood said in a statement.
But Covelli said Curran’s election, and previous membership in Lodge 66, has “absolutely nothing to do with” the FOP associating itself with the sheriff’s office.
“(Residents) wonder if they are being scammed,” Covelli said. “It’s our duty as the sheriff’s office to alert the public that we are not a part of this organization.”
For now, it appears this virtual standoff will continue for the foreseeable future.
Miles Bryan is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow him at @miles_bryan.