By David Kidwell
1:47 p.m. CDT, September 25, 2012
The Justice police chief was placed on administrative leave with pay following a Tribune report that he sent e-mails to more than 50 other towns promoting the village’s new red-light camera company, village officials said today.
Robert Gedville was stripped of his badge, keys and laptop late Monday and placed on indefinite leave while the village attorney conducts an internal investigation into the potential conflict of interest, said Mayor Kris Wasowicz.
The board voted unanimously in executive session late Monday, the same day the news report detailed his e-mail blast in which he said he was acting as a consultant to SafeSpeed LLC, the mayor said. The company began issuing tickets in Justice this month.
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“I recently have been afforded the opportunity to act as a consultant for SafeSpeed LLC,” the e-mails said.“The village I serve is a client of SafeSpeed, and I am happy to promote their service.”
Gedville said he has received no money from the company, is not a consultant, and it was simply a poor choice of words.
“He has denied any financial relationship, but all we have at this point is his word,“ Wasowicz said.“What was it that Reagan said? Trust but verify. The board decided to remove him and take him out of the spotlight for a while.
“We have done so much to clean up the village,” the mayor said.“This is very disturbing to me.”
Gedville could not immediately be reached today. Deputy Chief Craig McDermott will take over Gedville’s duties while the village investigates, Wasowicz said.
In August – the same month SafeSpeed installed two red-light cameras in the small southwest suburb – Gedville sent the first of two e-mails to suburban mayors and police chiefs throughout Cook County touting the benefits of the firm.
“I would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have regarding SafeSpeed and put you in contact with a customer representative,” Gedville wrote.“I hope that this info will help some of you in the future because I know that SafeSpeed has assisted many of our colleagues when it comes to traffice safety. Thanks and stay safe!”
The e-mail was signed Robert Gedville, chief of police, and included the number of his village-issued mobile phone.
Contacted on Friday, Gedville denied writing the e-mails before abruptly hanging up on a reporter. Gedville later acknowledged he sent the e-mail blasts.
“I wish I hadn’t used the word ‘consultant.’ It was the wrong verbiage,” Gedville said.“I am not paid, nor am I employed by them. I should have used the word ‘client.’
“I wrote the e-mail because I was asked by them, or I should say I suggested to them, that I was willing to do anything they needed to help them in other suburbs,” the police chief added.
A SafeSpeed spokeswoman also said the company does not have a business relationship with the police chief. The e-mail was sent twice, once on Aug. 21 to south suburbs and again on Sept. 14 to north suburbs. The messages not only touted the benefits of SafeSpeed, but criticized the red-light camera competition.
“Prior to meeting with SafeSpeed, I met with representatives from four other competitors that shall remain nameless. By meeting with all of the players within this industry, I quickly learned that SafeSpeed’s client interest came first!” the e-mail reads.“The business model utilized by SafeSpeed offered a substantial stream of revenue to the client while providing the state of the art equipment needed to reduce the number of crashes at intersections.”