Posted Online: Jan. 07, 2013, 11:19 pm

Milan trustees approve Johnson as police chief

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By Sarah Hayden shayden@qconline.com

MILAN — Trustees unanimously approved Shawn Johnson as chief of police during Monday night's village board meeting.

In the presence of a standing-room-only crowd of more than 80 people, Mr. Johnson was sworn in by village clerk Barb Lee and stood patiently as his wife, Charlotte Johnson, pinned on his chief's badge.

"I made sure to wear the (bulletproof) vest," Chief Johnson said with a laugh.

Chief Johnson has been with the Milan Police Department since 1997 and was promoted from captain. He has served as interim chief since police chief Mark Beckwith retired on Nov. 9.

"I think we've done our due diligence since Chief Beckwith retired," said Mayor Duane Dawson. "We decided the best way to do this was keep it in house. We have a fine police force. All the officers of the department were very supportive."

Chief Johnson said he intends to continue with progress made through the years and wants to keep building a good relationship with the community.

Chief Johnson, 40, is a native of Galesburg and graduated from Knox College. He previously worked for the Galva Police Department. He is married with two young boys and is a resident of Milan.

In other action Monday, trustees passed an ordinance eliminating the requirement for sprinklers in residential homes.

Mayor Dawson said the board's intent is not to diminish the importance of sprinklers in homes but to give people an option. He said he didn't want to create a new rule that would add to the price of a house.

Village attorney Lincoln Scott said many ordinances in other counties regarding sprinklers use the word "may" instead of "shall," and he recommended that Milan use the same language.

Fire Chief Gary Chapman said the main concern is that materials used in modern home construction are no longer solid wood. He said many homes are built of fast-burning materials such as laminate and drywall.

"Once that fire heats up the glue and other chemicals, you lose that house in 15 minutes. It puts us at a disadvantage," said Chief Chapman.