JOLIET – Mayor Bob O’Dekirk on Tuesday called on the police department to find work for a police officer who is under indictment and has been on paid leave since July.
“I have an issue, and the taxpayers of Joliet have an issue, with a city of Joliet employee not coming to work and collecting a paycheck every two weeks,” O’Dekirk said at a City Council meeting. “I think it’s a wrong decision allowing him to stay home.”
O’Dekirk’s comments in a public forum put the police chief and city manager on the spot and apparently call for action contrary to advice from the city’s attorneys.
The mayor was referring to Nicholas Crowley, a Joliet officer initially suspended for displaying his gun while on duty in a Snapchat photo and later indicted by a grand jury for reckless discharge of a firearm during a separate domestic incident.
Crowley faces a May 14 trial date and an administrative hearing on his suspension that has yet to be scheduled.
In the meantime, he continues to collect his pay.
O’Dekirk did not question the practice of paying Crowley until his future as a police officer is determined. But he suggested that Crowley be put on some sort of desk duty while he is getting paid.
Police Chief Brian Benton said after the meeting that the department is following the advice of the city attorney and the law firm that handles disciplinary procedures for the city department.
“He’s been stripped of his police powers while the administrative and criminal charges are pending,” Benton said. “We would not allow him to work inside a secure police facility while felony charges are pending.”
City Attorney Marty Shanahan said he could not comment on the matter.
During the meeting, O’Dekirk asked City Manager David Hales if he had determined whether Crowley could be put to work. Hales said he needed “a little more time” to examine the issue but expected to have a recommendation by the time the council meets again on April 16 and 17.