JOLIET – A suspended Joliet police officer awaiting jury trial on charges of recklessly firing his gun earned about $52,436 from the city between July and March, according to city records.
Joliet police officer Nicholas Crowley, 37, has been on paid leave since July 16 after his arrest for allegedly abusing his girlfriend, who also is a Joliet police officer, and firing his gun into the ceiling of her home.
A grand jury found no probable cause for domestic battery and criminal damage to property charges against Crowley. However, he still faces a reckless discharge of a firearm charge and is scheduled to head to trial May 14.
Since being suspended, Crowley earned about $52,436 in gross pay between late July and early March, according to city earnings statements obtained by The Herald-News through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Crowley’s gross pay last year was about $92,796. As of March 9, Crowley’s gross pay for 2018 was about $19,069.
In response to several questions about Crowley, Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton declined to comment in an email “since both felony criminal charges and administrative charges are still pending.”
Benton previously has said Crowley, who has been stripped of his police powers, was put on paid leave pending a criminal and administrative investigation.
At an April 3 City Council meeting, Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk called on the police department to find work for Crowley, saying he had an issue with a city employee “not coming to work and collecting a paycheck every two weeks.”
Benton said after the meeting that the police department would not allow Crowley to “work inside a secure police facility while felony charges are pending.” He said the department is following the advice of the city attorney and a law firm that handles disciplinary procedures for the police.
In an interview, O’Dekirk mostly repeated the comments he made at the meeting, saying City Council members spoke in closed session before April 3 about the issue of city employees being paid while not working. He said he wanted to see it addressed.
When asked what Crowley could do while suspended, O’Dekirk said a “variety of things” and that Joliet City Manager David Hales was looking into it. At the April 3 meeting, Hales said he expected to have a recommendation by the time the City Council meets again April 16 and 17.
O’Dekirk said it could be something that wouldn’t violate the contract between the city and the Fraternal Order of Police, which Crowley is a member of.
On July 16, Crowley surrendered to the police after they were contacted regarding an incident where Crowley allegedly endangered his girlfriend and neighbors by firing a gun into the ceiling of their home.
Special prosecutor Lorinda Lamken was assigned to the case because it posed a conflict of interest with the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office.
In what Crowley’s attorney, Jeff Tomczak, considered a “fairly rare occurrence,” a grand jury found no probable cause on charges of domestic battery and criminal damage to property.
A Will County judge has since approved modifying Crowley’s bond to allow him to have nonoffensive contact with the girlfriend he had been charged with abusing. He still was forbidden from visiting the home where he allegedly fired his gun because of its proximity to two neighbors who also are considered victims in the incident.
Crowley, who’s been a Joliet police officer since 2013, has been suspended for disciplinary issues in the past.
He was recommended for a five-workday suspension in July when he was found to have violated department policy for posing in uniform with his on-duty Glock Model 17 firearm with another resident in a Snapchat photo.
In 2016, he was given a notice of a two-day suspension without pay and three workdays held in abeyance after an investigation into his failure to appear in court.
In 2014, he was given a written reprimand after a review of a crash he was involved in that year found he failed to “exercise due care in the operation of a city of Joliet vehicle.”