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Hosey: Oblivious to the past, ignoring the present

Possessing a natural curiosity seems necessary to realize any measure of success in a number of professions.

Take the job of police officer, for example. Even your average police officer must have a propensity for knowing the unknown, for tracking down an elusive clue or solving a confounding mystery.

And to get to the top of this profession, you can’t help but imagine it would be all the more so, that the elite would be the most curious cops of all.

Strangely, it doesn’t seem to work that way. At least not here in Joliet, where the chief of police in the state’s third largest city appears to have little interest in anything that happened before he hit town.

Joliet Police Chief William Evans talks about his first few months on the job as Joliet’s new police chief. Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Joliet.

“From my perspective, coming here from the outside, whatever happened in the past here is kind of irrelevant to me,” said Bill Evans, who has been the chief of the Joliet Police Department since March 1 and apparently cares not a whit about anything that occurred prior to those 61 days, including what became of the police chief before him.

To hear the former chief, Dawn Malec, tell it, City Manager Jim Capparelli fired her when she scheduled a disciplinary hearing against his wishes for police Sgt. Javier Esqueda.

Whatever the case may be, it turned out Capparelli had to rescind Malec’s termination because he didn’t know what he was doing and firing her was beyond the scope of his authority. But he still managed to demote her back to lieutenant, so he has that going for him.

Esqueda’s aborted disciplinary hearing was for leaking video of a man dying of a drug overdose in the back of a squad car. Esqueda was also charged with felonies in Kendall County, where the state’s attorney isn’t afraid to prosecute cops, unlike Jim Glasgow, who is the state’s attorney in Will County and has proven to be somewhat less ardent.

Will County States Attorney James Glasgow speaks to the Herald-News on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, in Joliet, Ill.

On top of all that, Esqueda has been on desk duty for the last year and nine months in City Hall, where he works for the clerk instead of the police department.

Evans, for his part, truly sounded untroubled by the idea of losing a sergeant, one facing felonies, to City Hall.

“We’re down a sergeant because people are retiring too,” he pointed out, adding, “I wouldn’t concern myself with anything from the past unless I absolutely had to.”

Evans almost sounded like disgraced slugger Mark McGwire who, when testifying before congress about steroids, said, “Well, sir, I’m not here to talk about the past. I’m here to talk about the positive and not the negative about this issue.”

Yes, the past is irrelevant to Evans. Only the Esqueda situation is not in the past. He’s still under indictment and on desk duty, and for some reason, the police chief just doesn’t want to talk about it.

Could it be because Capparelli threatened to fire him too if he tried to discipline Esqueda?

“Nobody has specifically said that,” Evans claimed.

That doesn’t exactly sound reassuring, but Evans might have other reasons for letting Esqueda slide, such as his busy schedule, for instance.

“I’ve got my hands full here,” he said. “I really do.”

And that’s fine, so long as they aren’t also tied.

• Joe Hosey is the editor of The Herald-News. You can reach him at 815-280-4094, at jhosey@shawmedia.com or on Twitter @JoeHosey.

Joseph Hosey

Joseph Hosey

Joe Hosey became editor of The Herald-News in 2018. As a reporter, he covered the disappearance of Stacy Peterson and criminal investigation of her husband, former Bolingbrook police Sgt. Drew Peterson. He was the 2015 Illinois Journalist of the Year and 2014 National Press Club John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award winner.