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Elgin fires cop involved in fracas at Michigan amusement park

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Updated: December 15, 2012 6:33AM

ELGIN — Lance Adams, an Elgin police officer who was arrested after a fracas with amusement park workers in Michigan in 2011, has been fired from the police department after an investigation led by Police Chief Jeff Swoboda. And documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show that this was not the first time Adams had gotten into trouble during his 10-year career with the department.

On July 16, 2011, Adams and his nephew were waiting in line to get onto a roller coaster at the Michigan’s Adventure Amusement Park in Muskegon County, Mich., when a worker refused to let them on, saying they seemed to be drunk. According to later criminal charges brought against him in Michigan, Adams pushed and shoved park employees and tried to intimidate the employees and sheriff’s deputies by bragging that he was a police officer from Elgin, Ill.

Adams was charged with several misdemeanors, including some that were added when he allegedly fought with the jailers in the Muskegon County Jail that night. Under an agreement, he finally pleaded “no contest” to a reduced charge of attempted resisting an officer and was sentenced to a $678 fine plus six months probation.

In ordering him fired last Monday, Swoboda said the incident violated several Elgin Police Department rules, including a prohibition against casting discredit upon the department.

It also may have violated a “disciplinary agreement” Adams had signed in August 2007 after drinking had gotten him into trouble back in Elgin. According to affidavits filed at the time, Adams had been working overtime as a security guard at The Mission nightclub in downtown Elgin on July 7-8 when someone saw him glassy-eyed and smelling of alcohol. Adams also allegedly pulled his gun out of his holster there without any legitimate reason to do so, the witness affidavit said.

At 7 a.m. the next day — July 8, 2007 — a police sergeant wrote that he found Adams asleep at the wheel of a parked squad car, in full uniform, apparently drunk, more than three hours after his shift had ended.

After negotiations involving Adams, then-Chief Lisa Womack and the police union, Adams signed an agreement saying he would be fired if he drank while on duty again or seriously violated departmental rules before September 2011. Adams also was suspended for 30 days without pay and agreed to undergo alcohol counseling through a program for Elgin city employees.

However, his disciplinary file reveals he also got into less serious trouble four times between then and the Michigan incident. In September 2009, he was reprimanded for having a traffic accident with a squad car. In March 2010, he had another accident with a squad car and was reprimanded for “failing to give suitable attention to nearby fixed objects.” In July 2010, he was reprimanded for failing to arrest someone during a domestic battery investigation. And in December 2010, he was reprimanded yet again, and given a one-day suspension, for backing a squad car into a parked car.

Adams has been on limited duty, with little direct contact with the public, since his Michigan arrest, police said.

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