SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (CBS) – The police chief of Schaumburg is under investigation for allegedly stalking his ex-girlfriend, and his own officers are assigned to go by the woman’s house regularly to make sure he’s not harassing her.
In an exclusive interview with CBS 2’s Pam Zekman, Dawn Davis described her stormy 18-month relationship with Schaumburg Police Chief Brian Howerton.
“I just remember feeling complete despair,” she says tearfully.
It was an on-again, off-again relationship that she says she tried to end several times. She finally went to Schaumburg village officials for help.
“I just wanted him to stop calling me and following me and to just stop,” she says.
CBS 2 obtained a copy of a police report that was then written up by Schaumburg officers as a “stalking” offense. The report accuses Howerton of “harassing” her with hundreds of calls from his village-issued cell phone.
Mike McGinn, Davis’ former boss — whom she also once dated — says he had to fire her from his home health care agency because Howerton called so many times on her work phone that he disrupted meetings.
McGinn said he asked her to tell Howerton to stop.
“It didn’t stop. It seemed like every day it was getting worse and worse,” he says.
McGinn also says Howerton interfered with her responsibility to respond to calls from patients or caretakers when she was on call at night. He calls that “incomprehensible.”
He has written letters and given a statement to the village about what happened.
Davis says ignoring the calls only infuriated Howerton. She says one time “he was so upset … he was pacing the parking lot trying to figure out ways to kill me.”
She said he told her “he thought he’d run my body through a wood chipper, but then that would leave too much DNA evidence.”
“I said that is the sickest comment, and he responded to me that it’s cop humor,” Davis says.
She claims Howerton staked out her house, followed her in his village car to stores and restaurants. She recalled one example when she came out a restaurant called Bonefish and Howerton was in the parking lot — in uniform.
“How did he know you were here?” Zekman asked.
“I don’t know,” Davis replied. “There were many times I would go to different places and he knew where I was. I have no idea.”
As police chief, Howerton oversees decisions on domestic-abuse complaints and orders of protection. Now some are questioning if he can do it fairly.
“It’s a fox-in-charge-of-the-hen-house situation,” Davis’ attorney, Kaci Holguin, says.
If the allegations are true, Holguin says, “There doesn’t seem to be any way that he could continue as police chief in a role where he enforces protections that he himself has been violating.”
But Howerton remains in charge, and Davis remains afraid “he would retaliate, that he might come after me.”
Schaumburg police have provided Davis protection as she requested last March when she first went to the Village to complain.
Officers are assigned to check her home daily under a “Special Watch Order.” A copy of the order obtained by CBS 2 outlines this procedure: “The Special Watch is for Chief Howerton who is NOT to be in the area. If Chief Howerton is seen in the area, contact the Watch Commander immediately.”
“You know, that seems awkward position to put the officers in,” Holguin says.
Davis appreciates the officers’ help, though.
“He’s in a very powerful position. He carries a gun. I don’t. So that’s always in the back of my mind,” she says.
Village Manager Ken Fritz says that immediately after Davis filed her complaint, Howerton was told to avoid any contact with Davis. Davis confirms he has.
Howerton denied ever stalking, harassing or threatening Davis.
“That never happened,” he tells CBS 2.
He also said this is his first citizen complaint in 31 years on the force.
“This has been very difficult for me,” Howerton says.
He says he could not comment further because of ongoing investigations by the Illinois State Police and the village’s Office of Professional Standards.
The village asked state police to investigate whether there was evidence of any violations of state law. The state police report is now under review by the Cook County States Attorneys’ Office.
Fritz said the village agreed to hold off its own internal investigation so that it didn’t impede the state police probe. The village has now restarted its own internal investigation to determine if village’s policies, general orders or its code of conduct was violated.
In a written statement, the village said it takes “any complaints regarding the actions of village employees seriously and investigates those allegations thoroughly.”
The statement said the village encourages anyone with “fact-based information about these allegations to come forward,” noting that their rights will be protected under state and federal law.
“Unless and until any allegations of wrongdoing are substantiated, Chief Howerton will have the full confidence of the Village and the Schaumburg Village Board,” the statement said.