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Local News

Joliet council voices support for Roechner as police chief

Joliet Police Chief Al Roechner speaks to the Joliet City Council on Tuesday after being sworn in as Joliet's new police chief during a ceremony at City Hall in Joliet. Roechner replaced Brian Benton.
Joliet Police Chief Al Roechner speaks to the Joliet City Council on Tuesday after being sworn in as Joliet's new police chief during a ceremony at City Hall in Joliet. Roechner replaced Brian Benton.

New Police Chief Al Roechner enjoys strong support from City Council members, several of whom said they saw no reason to interview anyone else for the job.

Roechner, a 27-year veteran of the department and interim chief since August, was the only person interviewed for the job that pays a salary of $175,000.

Council member Michael Turk said Roechner was likely to rise to the top even if there had been a candidate search.

“He was the deputy chief,” Turk said. “He’s been there a long time. He’s qualified. He has the respect of the officers. I was happy to see the city manager was going to appoint him.”

Turk said interim City Manager Marty Shanahan informed the council in a closed session at the end of Monday’s council meeting he intended to name Roechner for the job. Shanahan then arranged the swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday.

In a news release announcing the appointment, Shanahan said he relied on “my own observations of Mr. Roechner professionally over the past four years during interviews and interrogations, on-the-scene incidents and interactions with the public.”

Shanahan has been the city attorney working at times with Roechner, who has been in commander positions for 10 years and was deputy chief of investigations the past four years.

Former City Manager David Hales, who left in October after less than a year on the job, was working with the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police to conduct a search for the next police chief. But the process reportedly ran into resistance from Mayor Bob O’Dekirk and council members.

Council member John Gerl, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said hiring a police chief was the city manager’s job and he did not see the need to use an outside consultant.

Not advertising for the job, Gerl said, “shows that the police department has a developed bench that they can lean on, and we can promote from within. I think that’s a good thing.”

Council member Bettye Gavin said she, too, did not like the idea of hiring an outside consultant to find a chief “when you have somebody in-house that you can turn to.”

Council member Terry Morris called Roechner “a great candidate. I think if they had opened it up he would have been selected.”

Roechner’s previous position as deputy chief put him “second in command, and that means you’re being groomed to be first in command,” Council member Pat Mudron said.

“Everybody was in favor of it,” Mudron said of the council’s response to the decision to hire Roechner. “Most of us were saying, ‘What are we waiting for? Let’s move on.’ ”

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