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Local News

Petition calls for firing of Joliet police chief

An activist in Joliet created an online petition calling for the firing of the city's police chief, Al Roechner.

Suzanna Ibarra, the chair of the Will County Progressives, said she created the petition Thursday due to the many incidents plaguing the police department over the last few years. The petition argues Roechner has "no ability" to discipline officers at fault for wrongdoing, such as "racist behavior" and "excessive force."

Ibarra has been a prominent voice among the activists pushing the Joliet City Council to implement police reform measures.

The petition asks interim Joliet City Manager Jim Hock to fire Roechner.

"We’re all hoping that this city manager might be willing to show some good faith and take one for the team here and show us you still care about public trust," Ibarra said.

The petition also mentions the death of Eric Lurry, whose January overdose death in Joliet police custody inspired several protests. The petition accused the Joliet Police Department of using "bully tactics" against the sergeant who leaked squad car video of Lurry's overdose.

Police department critics consider Esqueda a "whistleblower," though he was charged with felony misconduct for leaking the video.

Still, Ibarra's petition alleges that Roechner is charging Esqueda for "doing the right thing."

"Shame shame shame on Al Roechner!" the petition said.

Ibarra also criticized the city for not moving quickly on purchasing body cameras for officers. City officials have discussed the issue and are pursuing federal grant money to pay for cameras.

The petition includes a gag photo the department made of Roechner in an elf costume. Ibarra said she used it to "get people's attention."

Ibarra said local groups like the Joliet Gatekeepers and We All Stand in Unity were in support of the petition. She said she hopes to get around 2,000 signatures and present it to Hock. As of midday Thursday, the petition had four signatures.

Roechner did not respond to a call for comment. Assistant City Attorney Chris Regis said Thursday Hock hadn't seen the petition and "doesn't know anything about it."

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