Community leaders react to recommendation of termination for Joliet police officer
After recent action taken by Joliet Chief of Police Al Roechner to recommend the termination of a long-time police officer, community leaders hope the findings of the matter will be reviewed justly.
Herb Lande, chairman of the Joliet Board of Police and Fire Board Commissioners, said he has little knowledge of facts surrounding Joliet Police officer Lionel Allen’s case, but “ultimately, it’s in our code, I understand, that we take it very seriously when someone else’s life is involved and their livelihood.”
“I don’t know why he’s being terminated, and I won’t find out until it comes in front of the board,” he said. “Mr. Allen is getting a chance to make his case, and it will decide who’s right and who’s wrong.”
The recommendation of termination was made several months after Allen filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging the city of Joliet and the Joliet Police Department discriminated on the basis of race when tendering promotions. In that complaint, newly-promoted deputy police chief Marc Reid is specifically named one of the defendants.
Interim Corporation Counsel Chris Regis said the police chief recommended the termination of Allen. He said Roechner is also responsible for promoting Reid.
Roechner did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Regis said the matter requires a hearing before the Joliet Board of Police and Fire Commissioners can weigh in.
Lande said the matter has not been placed on the agenda yet.
David Jackson, president of the Joliet Black Police Officers Association, said Allen has a hearing coming up.
“We want a fair and non-biased hearing that he will be involved in,” he said.
Jackson said knowing Allen put in more than 29 years working for the police department only to be terminated indicates that “when there is smoke, there is fire.”
Jackson said with everything from the discrimination case to the retirement of chief Brian Benton that’s transpired, “it seems like there’s something more to this case than what they’re alleging.”
The Joliet Board of Police and Fire Commissioners typically meet monthly at city hall.
Regis said the recommendation of termination “is not final until the police and fire board makes that decision.”