New group of Joliet police hires are all women, in apparent first for department

Joliet has now hired 15 officers this year

The Joliet Police Station on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, in Joliet, Ill.

The Joliet Police Department apparently had a first this week when a hiring panel approved an all-female group of applicants.

The five recruits were approved at a time that Joliet continues to try to bolster its force with new hires as veterans leave the department in what is viewed as a tough time to be a police officer.

The Board of Fire and Police Commissioners met in closed session for about an hour Monday to review a list of 12 police applicants.

The board approved five of the applicants, and Police Chief William Evans after the meeting confirmed that the five hired were all female.

“This is the first time in history that we have done that,” Evans said. “It wasn’t anything we did specifically or intentionally. We have five very good candidates, and they all happened to be female.”

Not all applicants go to the board of commissioners with recommendations for approval.

Joliot Police Chief William Evans talks with fellow officers after the Will County Law Enforcement Memorial ceremony on Thursday, May 9, 2024 in downtown Joliet.

Evans would not comment on how many of the applicants had positive recommendations, saying it was a personnel matter.

But he said the police department will bring more applicants to the board this summer as it tries to keep pace with the number of veteran officers.

“We are going to continue to hire until we reach our goal, which is what we’re budgeted for,” Evans said.

The Joliet Police Department has 260 sworn officers and is budgeted for 286.

It wasn’t anything we did specifically or intentionally. We have five very good candidates, and they all happened to be female.”

—  William Evans, Joliet police chief

Seventeen officers were hired in 2023. Ten more were hired previously this year and, more applicants will likely be brought to the board of commissioners this summer, Evans said.

The police department has been in a hiring mode even before Evans became chief in March 2022.

But Joliet is losing veterans as it hires new officers, a situation that Evans noted is not unique to the city’s police department at a time when the job is under increased public scrutiny and criticism.

“We’re not seeing people stay for 30 years anymore,” he said. “They’re leaving after 20 years or 25 years.”

Not all new hires make it to the police force.

Joliet police vehicle.

The five candidates approved Monday were all done conditionally upon the completion of physical and vision exams. They next go through training and are not likely to be sworn in as officers until some time next year.

The Joliet Police Department aims at diversity in its recruitment efforts, which may have contributed to the all-female group of candidates hired Monday.

A recruitment plan is reviewed frequently by the police department, human resources, and the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, said Sgt. Tizoc Landeros, a spokesman for the department.

“The goal of this plan is to develop a highly qualified and diverse workforce that reflects the demographics of the city of Joliet,” Landeros said in an email.

The police department also tries to give applicants a real taste of police work by having them join ride-alongs with Joliet patrol officers.

“In 2024, we have had over 100 ride-alongs take place,” Landeros said. “This gives the potential applicant the first-hand experience of what it’s like to work as a Joliet police officer.”