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Sherman Residents Rally Behind Cop in Lawsuits with Village

Updated: Wednesday, August 27 2014, 05:30 PM CDT

SHERMAN - It is a showdown in Sherman. Residents in the village are fired up and defending a longtime officer there who some say is being targeted by village leaders.

And Tuesday night, that controversy had Sherman's meeting hall packed.

Residents called out leaders. One young man, stood before the board and said, "At least be more professional about it."

He's referring to lawsuits involving Sherman police officer Phil Brown; who has been on the force for 15 years. The 60-year old is also a navy veteran.

"He has a lot of backing and a lot of respect," the young man's mother stood to say.

Officer Brown's union representative, Brad Schaive, says earlier this year, Brown was against a proposed contract between the village and police and wanted to continue negotiations.

Schaive said, "The mayor specifically told me when we met that this officer was going to be singled out and basically they would take discipline against him for speaking out."

"That's 150% incorrect and untrue," Sherman mayor Trevor Clatfelter said when asked about it.

Local laborers 477, officer Brown's union, claims the village is now retaliating by trying to fire Brown for having military decals on his squad car.

One after one, Sherman residents defended the officer at the village meeting.

"This is a big putdown for our veterans," one woman said. Her husband, wearing a Vietnam shirt, said, "You're stepping on my toes when you step on his toes."

Resident Karen Hoffek said to the board, "If there's gross misconduct, I'm having difficulty understanding why he wasn't put on administrative leave."

After the meeting, Mayor Clatfelter read a statement to ABC News Channel 20 saying, "There's obviously more to this case than stickers on a car but because this is a personnel issue, I can't comment further."

Legal fees for the village totaled more than $38,804.26 in June. Someone anonymously left yellow door hangers on Sherman homes to spread awareness about the legal fees. Now local residents are demanding answers about their tax dollars.

"If there's $50,000 spent on decals and that's it, I'm disgusted," said one resident to the board. Another said, "We need to back off and spend our money elsewhere."

Clatfelter says the union has filed three lawsuits in circuit court and three unfair labor practices with the state labor relations board. Those hearings are ongoing.

"We have been stuck with this union who said their attorney has a blank check and they are doing everything they can to drive up the cost on us. We have to, as a village board, defend ourselves," Clatfelter said.

Schaive says it's about something else. "I think it all boils down to one individual, being the mayor, taking a stance that no one is going to go against my wishes," Schaive said.

The next hearing before the Illinois Labor Relations Board is Tuesday, September 2nd at 9:00 AM.

When we asked the Sherman mayor if he wants officer Phil Brown fired, he said there has to be a hearing to go over an investigative report; and the Sherman board makes all personnel decisions together.

Sherman Residents Rally Behind Cop in Lawsuits with Village

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