PEORIA, IL – Two police union officials have been stripped of their authority to conduct new business on their members’ behalf for publicly speaking in support of the police chief after being warned not to do so.
Peoria Police Benevolent Association Unit 27 President Troy Skaggs and Vice President Kevin Slavens appeared before the City Council on Aug. 13 during a public comment session where several speakers voiced support of Chief Steve Settingsgaard ahead of an executive session scheduled to discuss personnel issues in the Police Department.
“Because of the way these two executive board members introduced themselves, there is a very high possibility comments made by these two individuals may have been construed as being official comments issued by the PPBA executive board,” read a statement from the board sent to city officials Wednesday.
In his appearance in council chambers, Slavens called Settingsgaard a “solid and fair administrator” and noted that he has been at the Peoria Police Department for 12 years and served on the PPBA executive board for nine years. A message on Slavens city-issued cellphone said his voicemail could not accept new messages, and he could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Skaggs called Settingsgaard “a good man” who has “led by example” in his comments to the council. Skaggs did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.
The men were questioned after their comments by 2nd District City Councilman Chuck Grayeb about whether they had the authorization of their membership to make the statements. No clear answer was offered.
The email sent to city officials Wednesday offered an unambiguous response.
“We feel it needs to be pointed out, comments made by these two executive board members were of their own volition and made as individuals and not meant to be taken as comments representative of the PPBA executive board,” the statement read.
It continued: “Because the majority of the PPBA executive board cautioned against this appearance prior to its occurrence, an internal PPBA executive board motion was made to place all new business under the responsibility of remaining PPBA executive board members.”
Skaggs and Slavens will be allowed to serve out the rest of their terms through November but can only complete “previously initiated matters.”
The statement was sent from the email address of Officer Eric Ellis, who serves on the executive board and will take over as president of the union in November. He did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.
The email noted one other detail about the union action: “This motion passed unanimously.”