News - Joliet and Will County

O’Dekirk nominates fire and police commissioners

Mayor Bob O'Dekirk

JOLIET – Mayor Bob O’Dekirk appointed and the city council approved Tuesday replacing four of the five members of the Joliet’s Board of Fire and Police Commissioners.

The panel oversees the hiring of police officers and firefighters, a matter that was an issue in the recent mayoral campaign. Minority leaders contend that not enough African-Americans and Hispanics work for the city, including the police and fire departments.

O’Dekirk’s appointments include two African-Americans and one Hispanic.

The appointments were announced ahead of the Joliet City Council meeting Tuesday evening. Council members approved the appointments, 6-0, with no discussion.

In a written statement accompanying the announcement of appointees, O’Dekirk said, “One of the goals of the new fire and police commissioners will be to create greater diversity in our public safety officer ranks so that our residents can relate better to our police officers and firefighters while they are trying to do their jobs.”

The appointees are:

• George Hernandez, a retired Joliet police lieutenant. He was the first Mexican-American in the Joliet Police Department when he joined the force in 1966, according to a biography provided by O’Dekirk.

• Herb Lande, owner of Imperial Construction Associates Inc. He served in the Will County Sheriff’s Police Auxiliary for 25 years and obtained the rank of captain, according to his biography.

• Rev. Craig L. Purchase Sr., pastor of Mt. Zion Gospel Tabernacle in Joliet for 19 years. Purchase, an African-American, also is president of Rainbow PUSH Joliet Chapter. He is the founder and director of Lift Him Up Ministries, according to his biography.

• Todd Wooten, a former captain in the Joliet Fire Department who retired in 2013. He was the third African-American promoted to the rank of lieutenant and also served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, according to his biography.

O’Dekirk said the only member of the current board remaining will be Chairman Joseph Strong.

The new commissioners would replace R. Dale Evans, Phillip Falbo, Fredrick Moore and William Tatro.

Bob Okon

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News