Bonynge forced out?

Robert Blackford/Editor

Former Aledo Police Officer Steven Bonynge claims he was "forced out" of his position as a police officer in the letter of resignation he submitted to the Aledo Police Department Jan. 5.

Bonynge states his belief that he would have been released after a disciplinary hearing scheduled for Jan. 6.

Bonynge was arrested Dec. 12, 2014 by the Illinois State Police and was charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse/weapon. He was on paid leave from the date of his arrest until his resignation.

Bonynge supplied The Times Record with a copy of his resignation letter. In the letter he claims to be innocent of the criminal charges against him but he felt he had already been convicted by his superiors.

Bonynge also claims that the APD disseminated his booking photo to various media outlets in violation of his employment contract.

The City of Aledo issued the following statement regarding the claims in Bonynge's letter: The City had accepted the resignation of Officer Steven Bonynge on January 5, 2015. In accepting the resignation letter, we did not agree with the erroneous/false claims found in the letter of resignation. In specific reference to the release of the officer's booking photograph, the arrest of Steven Bonynge was made by the Illinois State Police and the booking photograph was released by the Mercer County Sheriff's Department in accordance with their standard practices.

The Times Record received his booking photograph from The Mercer County Jail.

Bonynge's resignation letter was submitted as follows:

Chief Sponsler,

I hearby resign from my position with the Aledo Police Department.

I do with knowledge of my imminent release on January 6, 2015. I am being forced out and my resignation is involuntary considering the position of the Department and the City. The relationship between police officers and their supervisory staff should be one of mutual respect and support, but those are not the principles recognized by the Aledo Police Department or the officials of the City of Aledo. The treatment bestowed upon me since my wrongful arrest has been unconscionable. It would be foolish to believe that I would be treated fairly at the disciplinary hearing you have suddenly scheduled for January 6, 2015.

Early in my professional law enforcement career, I was taught that all persons are innocent unless proven guilty. The administrative procedures at the Aledo Police Department regarding my disciplinary proceedings have gone against this very principle. I am innocent of this criminal charge but it appears that I have already been convicted by my superiors.

The Aledo Police Department further compounded its unfair treatment by disseminating my booking photograph to various media outlets. This action was a direct violation of my employment contract, which forbids the release of an officer’s photograph unless he has been convicted of a crime. By this conduct, the Aledo Police Department has placed my and my young family’s safety in jeopardy and branded me a criminal for an inflammatory charge of which I am innocent. This pattern of behavior has shattered the respect and confidence in which I have previously held the Police Department and City Officials.

Resigning for these reasons is discouraging but, given the circumstances I was put in, I do not have any choice. I know I will not have the opportunity to be rehired or to continue my employment by the Aledo Police Department, but I would like to say that I have performed my duty faithfully and I have nothing but the utmost respect for the residents of Aledo and Mercer County.

Sincerely,

Officer Steven Bonynge