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Kagann v. Board of Fire & Police Comm'rs

APRIL 28, 1975.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. GEORGE W. UNVERZAGT, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied June 4, 1975.

Plaintiff appeals from a declaratory judgment which adjudged that he was not entitled to "revert to, and be established in" the rank of captain in the Police Department of the Village of Woodridge (as plaintiff had requested in his letter dated November 19, 1971, resigning as chief of police), and dismissed plaintiff's suit with prejudice. The trial court decided this case upon the complaint, the answer thereto and upon a stipulation of facts between the parties. Thus, the facts are not controverted.

On July 1, 1962, plaintiff was duly appointed chief of police of the Village by its corporate authorities and continued to perform his duties as chief until November 19, 1971. In the years 1963 and 1965 and June of 1967, he entered into written employment contracts covering his services as police chief. The 1967 contract specified, among other things, that he was entitled to vacation and "all of the benefits as set forth * * * under the category of Captain in Ordinance # 67-8." That ordinance established "the salaries and benefits for" Village police officers, which included hospitalization and accident insurance, life insurance, pension, holidays and uniform allowance.

In the meantime on September 16, 1965, the corporate authorities passed a resolution which "conferred upon" plaintiff "the rank of Captain of the Police Department," after reciting that they had "first established the rank of Captain of Police" of the Village, and referring to plaintiff's services as its chief of police for several years, and their desire to confer upon him the rank of captain. It should be noted that Ordinance # 63-1, adopted in January, 1963 (which amended the "composition" section of an earlier ordinance, # 59-20, "establishing a police department for the Village") provided that the police department "shall consist of the Chief of Police and such Captains [etc.] as may, from time to time, be appointed as by Statute and Ordinance provided."

On March 21, 1966, the Village, having attained a population of [over] 5,000, became subject to division 2.1 of article 10 of the Illinois Municipal Code as added by Act approved August 10, 1965 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1965, ch. 24, par. 10-2.1-1 et seq.). On May 19, 1966, they passed Ordinance # 66-5 creating a Board of Fire and Police Commissioners for the Village ("Commissioners") and granting to it the powers conferred under section 10-2.1-4 of the Municipal Code, but retaining for the mayor, subject to the advice and consent of the Board of Trustees of the Village, the power to appoint the chiefs of the Fire and Police Departments.

At their meeting on June 15, 1966, the commissioners adopted a motion that the plaintiff "be classified as permanent rank of Captain of Police in accordance with Chapter 24, Section 10-2.1-7 of Illinois Statutes." The minutes of their June 20 meeting set forth that a "letter was written to the Mayor * * * dated June 14 [sic], 1966, approving the classification of [two identified patrolmen] and Captain Joel Kagann as permanent ranks." At that same meeting they unanimously adopted a motion that plaintiff "be considered on furlough from the rank Captain [sic] while serving as Chief of Woodridge Police Department." By letter dated June 20, 1966, addressed to "Captain Kagann," signed by all the commissioners, they informed him of the adoption of the motion "to consider you on furlough from the rank of Captain of Police while you are holding the position of Chief of Police." The commissioners also issued to plaintiff an "Official Commission," dated June 14, 1966, declaring that he was "classified to the office of Permanent Rank of Police Captain." On October 22, 1967, they issued to plaintiff a wallet-sized card also captioned "Official Commission," identifying plaintiff as having been "appointed to the office of Permanent Rank of Captain * * * on September 16, 1965"; on the reverse side of the card appeared his name, his title: "Captain of Police," his star number: 2, date of appointment: September 16, 1965, other descriptive identification data (such as his sex, height, weight, color of hair and eyes), and a line for the signature of the holder, Joel E. Kagann.

In November, 1968, Ordinance # 59-20 (which had been amended by Ordinance # 63-1, above referred to) was further amended by Ordinance # 68-28 to read as follows:

"There is hereby created a Police Department which shall consist of the Chief of Police; one Captain of Police, one Sergeant of Police; seven Patrolman [sic] of Police".

There were other amendments from time to time of Ordinance # 59-20, further increasing the number of patrolmen or adding sergeants and lieutenants, or both.

On November 19, 1971, plaintiff tendered his resignation as chief of police in a letter addressed to the mayor of the Village, the last paragraph of which reads as follows:

"With this resignation, I hereby notify the Mayor and Board and the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners of my intention in accordance with section 10-2.1-4 of Chapter 24, Illinois Revised Statutes, to revert to my classified rank of Captain of Police effective immediately."

On the same day the Mayor in writing accepted the resignation, thanked plaintiff for his "many years of service and cooperation [sic]," and added the following:

"In reference to your request to revert to the rank of Captain of Police, effective immediately, is denied. You of course have a ...

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