KANKAKEE — A top Kankakee County Sheriff’s Department official is under investigation for an alleged incident that happened after Sheriff Mike Downey’s annual golf outing.
Chief of Patrol Ed Zopf was placed on administrative leave with pay recently because of the alleged June 14 incident.
In an interview Wednesday, Downey said he would not give details about Zopf’s situation because it was a “personnel matter.” But the sheriff said he was taking it “very seriously.”
At this point, the case has not been characterized as a criminal investigation.
The sheriff’s office confirmed last week it was investigating Zopf. Asked how long it would take, Downey said it wouldn’t be months, but declined to specify further.
The alleged incident happened after the sheriff’s annual golf outing at Oak Springs Golf Course, southeast of Kankakee. The event, which raises money for the sheriff’s campaign, draws many local police officers and officials.
The golf course is in the sheriff’s office’s jurisdiction. Downey said his department had no incident report documenting the situation because authorities were not alerted through the usual channels.
Asked about the matter, Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe said he was not aware of any criminal complaint filed in the case.
“There has been no case forwarded to my office by any law enforcement agency for investigation or prosecution,” Rowe said in an interview.
Zopf, a 20-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, made $102,000 in 2018. In rank, Zopf is behind only the sheriff and the chief deputy. Zopf’s position is equivalent to the chiefs of investigations and emergency operations.
In May, the county board honored Zopf for reaching his 20-year mark. He had his photo taken with the sheriff.
On his Facebook page at the time, Downey wrote, “Ed’s communication skills are second to none. His ability to positively interact with the community reflects great for our agency.”
The annual golf outing appears to be the sheriff’s only campaign fundraiser. Virtually all of the campaign donations in the second quarter each year appear to be connected to the golf outing.
Even though Downey faced no opponents in 2016 or 2018, he raises tens of thousands of dollars each year, perhaps to ward off prospective opponents. His next election is 2022.
Last year, his campaign pulled in $52,000 during the second quarter and spent $23,000, according to state election board records. His contributors include area companies such as Aqua Illinois and Momence Bottled Gas Co., as well as politicians such as county treasurer Nick Africano, former Sheriff Tim Bukowski, circuit clerk Sandi Cianci and State’s Attorney Rowe.
In 2017, the campaign received $39,000 in the second quarter and spent $20,000. The spending included $14,000 for the golf course and more than $800 for beverages.
Downey’s second-quarter financial results for this year are not due to the elections board until Monday.
Zopf hasn’t been listed as a contributor at previous golf outings. State law only requires campaigns to itemize donations more than $150, so Zopf might have given less.
The day after this year’s outing, Downey called it a “great day.”
“Thank you for the wonderful turnout and a great day of golf,” he said on Facebook. “Looking forward to the 5th annual golf outing on June 12, 2020.”
Zopf hasn’t returned messages for comment.