Joliet city manager pulling department from auto theft task force

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

Police chiefs and sheriffs from law enforcement agencies in the Tri-County Auto Theft Task Force said they were notified by Joliet City Manager Jim Capparelli that he is pulling Joliet out of the program.

“The way I understand it, it’s a staffing issue,” said Grundy County Sheriff Ken Briley.

Briley said he received Capparelli’s letter Monday.

“This came out of the blue,” Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey said of Capparelli’s announcement.

“Whoever’s making this decision in Joliet is causing ripples in Grundy, Will and Kankakee counties,” Downey said.

City Manager Jim Capparelli listens to council discussion on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, at Joliet City Hall in Joliet, Ill. The Joliet City Council discussed an amendment to allow for liquor consumption and video gambling at gas stations.

“I’m going to assume he’s not aware of the work police do,” he said.

Capparelli and Joliet Police Chief Dawn Malec failed to respond to calls for comment.

Joliet Chief of Police Dawn Malec listens to the State of the City address on Monday, March 22, 2021, at Joliet Holiday Inn in Joliet, Ill. Mayor Bob O'Dekirk delivered his annual State of the City address to the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley also received the letter, Deputy Chief Dan Jungles confirmed.

The task force is led by Joliet police Sgt. Edward Grizzle. Dwayne Killian, who is retired from the Joliet Police Department, is the task force’s assistant director. Capparelli said in his letter that the Joliet Police Department would withdraw from the task force in August, said official who received the correspondence.

Pulling the Joliet Police Department’s participation from the task force might spell the end of the orgaization, Briley and Downey said, as the grant funding it is administered by Joliet.

“I don’t know if one of our agencies can pick up the grant and continue,” said Briley, who along with Downey stressed the importance of the task force.

“We have stolen cars every day,” Downey said. “Patrolmen don’t have time to go chasing down stolen cars.”