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Skokie Police Officer Sues Village Over Military Leave Policy

Skokie Police Officer Baldo "Al" Bello. (Credit: Photo via Anne Kavanaugh)

Skokie Police Officer Baldo “Al” Bello. (Credit: Photo via Anne Kavanaugh)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A suburban police officer who is also a U.S. Marine reservist is suing the village that employs him.

Skokie police officer Baldo “Al” Bello contends in his lawsuit the village is violating federal law by forcing employees who are also military to use their personal and vacation time when doing work for Uncle Sam. The suit also alleges the policy violates state law by not compensating him properly.

Bello’s lawyer Dana Kurtz says the 34-year old police officer had no blemishes on his record until he started complaining about the policy.

Then, she says, he was put under investigation, suspended for a day, and put on desk duty.

“We should be honoring our service members and not discriminating against them and retaliating against them,” Kurtz said.

“These guys and gals go out and they’re putting their lives in danger to serve our country, to serve our community and this is how they get treated by the village?”

The Village of Skokie said in a statement that it’s confident its military leave policy is in full compliance with state and federal law. The statement also said that many other Skokie police officers serve in the military and that Officer Bello is the first to complain about the policy.

Kurtz says Bello tried, both with and without her involvement, to deal with the matter privately beforehand.

Bello has been with the Skokie Police Department since January 2006.

He has served two tours of duty with the Marines, including one to Iraq where he was awarded a Purple Heart.