It was standing room only during a special city council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Audience members spoke in support of long-time police chief Tom Piotrowski, who did not attend the meeting.

It was standing room only during a special city council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Audience members spoke in support of long-time police chief Tom Piotrowski, who did not attend the meeting.

On Jan. 30, aldermen voted to place Piotrowski on paid administrative leave pending “the completion of a review.”

Scant details on the reasons for Piotrowski’s paid administrative leave meant many in the room had questions for the board.

Resident Rhonda Borkgren asked why the review was being conducted by an outside person, and not the Illinois State Police.

City attorney Margaret Kostopulos said the state police investigated in cases of criminal alligations. She stressed there were no criminal alligations against Piotrowski.

Instead, Kostopulos called the proceeding an “external review of procedures, operations and the moral of the department.” She added, “We felt it was more objective if someone from outside the city did that review.”

Mayor Kathy Carroll-Duda told the citizens the review was “not initiated by an elected official or anyone in city administration” but came from “concerns raised within the police department.”

Still, residents remained baffled.

Former city employee Lacey Billiet called Piotrowski “a great leader” and said she’d “never once heard anyone complain about him.”

She said he operated “by the book” and urged the council “please don’t railroad him.”

Prior to retirement, Cory Sellers’ mother worked for Piotrowski and the Geneseo Police Department.

“She had nothing but the utmost respect for him, as do I,” said Sellers. She asked the council to “figure out what’s going on” and “hear the voice (of the community).”

Resident Megan Dwyer said she didn’t know Piotrowski personally, but added, “I’ve not heard anything but good about him. He’s done great work for this city.” She urged the council not to be “bullied into doing something that isn’t right.”

In addition to listening to public comment, the only item on the Feb. 20 agenda was an executive session, in which the council met behind closed doors for nearly three hours.

The city attorney said the executive session was a way for the council to “check in on the external review.”

“They may give the individual hired to do the review extra direction. They hope to see where he’s at and get a timeline from him,” she said.

Following the executive session, Kostopulos said, “It’s premature to make any statement. The review is not completed, and we’re not rushing things.”

After the executive session, a resident told the council the police chief’s paid leave had caused “rampant rumors and innuendos,” adding the stories “will be a cancer” on the community. “Something needs to be said about what’s going on,” he added.

The mayor added results of the review “would come out” but noted, “we have to give (the review) the time it needs.”

Piotrowski has been a member of the Geneseo Police Department since 1991. He was hired as police chief in December 2001.