By TEREASA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers
SOUTHGATE — In the midst of controversy, Brian Klonowski didn’t take the reins of police chief as expected Aug. 27, leaving the city still looking to fill the position. Mayor Joseph Kuspa made announcement at the Sept. 7 City Council meeting.
City officials said that the storm of outrage from residents regarding Klonowski’s past coupled with the promotion forced him to pass on the position. Klonowski, a lieutenant, will return to overseeing the Detective Bureau. Public Safety Director Jeffrey Smith will serve as chief until a new top cop is named.
Nearly 2,000 city residents recently signed a petition to recall Klonowski, before he even started the position resulting from an April 2004 assault of a woman while he was on duty.
Fully aware of Klonowski’s conviction in the assault, City Council appointed Klonowski Aug. 17.
Klonowski hit a woman who reportedly refused his advances. He was later convicted of a misdemeanor.
Once the news of Klonowski’s promotion to chief was public, supporters of the victim, Gina Falconer, began reminding and telling people about the assault to which the officer pleaded no contest.
“Officer Klonowski yanked Gina out of her chair by her shirt … Threw her to the ground … Restrained her by sitting on top of her, and began punching her in the face … It took four people to get Officer Klonowski off of Gina,” wrote a person identified as a Concerned Citizen who started the petition. “She suffered a hemorrhage to her eye, a broken nose and a broken bone above her eye.”
Klonowski was arrested and charged with aggravated assault. He was placed on a 30-day work program and wore a tether for 60 days before returning to duty in January 2005 as an officer.
(Tereasa Nims can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)