BRADLEY — Just three days after he resigned as a Bradley village trustee, Don Barber was named the village’s next police chief.
At Monday’s meeting, the elected village trustees unanimously voted for Barber, a former Bradley police officer, as the new chief. He replaces Michael Johnston.
Barber was appointed by Mayor Pro Tem Mike Watson, a political ally. He will take office Sept. 17, a day after Johnston’s retirement.
The board voted for Barber after an hour-long closed session.
In an interview Saturday, Barber revealed he had resigned as trustee recently, though he wasn’t sure which day. It was news even his colleagues apparently were unaware of.
During the meeting, Watson confirmed Barber resigned Friday. He said Barber interviewed for the job in the last few weeks, when he still was a trustee.
Under Illinois law, elected officials cannot use their positions for personal gain.
Both Watson and Barber are members of the Progressive Citizens Party, which took control of the village government after the April election.
Watson said trustees were eligible for interviews for positions in village government, just like anyone else, “only if they are qualified.”
Barber, Aroma Park’s police chief, was a Bradley police officer for three decades, retiring as a sergeant.
Watson said a day earlier that he considered both Barber and Deputy Chief Craig Anderson for the position.
Last month, Watson, who became mayor pro tem in late April, declined to comment on reports that he was planning to appoint Barber for the chief’s job. In two interviews at the time, Barber said he was unaware of being considered for the position.
Late in the month, the Daily Journal reported that Johnston, the chief for more than three years, had turned in his retirement papers, but it was uncertain at the time when he planned to leave.
Johnston said in a weekend interview he had hoped to remain in the chief’s position until his anniversary date in September. He said he initially had hoped to serve until 2021.
Johnston worked for the department for 23 years. Before that, he was with the local Army National Guard for seven years, six of them full time.
Watson said he didn’t advertise the position publicly out of respect for Johnston. The chief turned 50 in July and is eligible for retirement.
During the meeting, Watson announced Johnston’s retirement and thanked him for his service.
“We wish him well in his future endeavors. Thank you for your service,” the mayor pro tem said.
The chief replied, “Thank you.”
When the audience applauded, he mouthed, “Thank you.”