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Wayne's Words: Is it political Theatre

Wayne Horne | 3/30/2017, 6 a.m.
A little over two weeks ago, Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, was granted emergency powers to close a business for up ...

A little over two weeks ago, Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, was granted emergency powers to close a business for up to seven days. As previously reported the term “emergency” was not defined. The stated reason for the action was police had a difficult time making arrests and controlling criminal activity on private business property. It was also noted at the time, that street cops were “clamoring” for the ordinance giving the mayor the power to close businesses that made controlling criminal activity so difficult.

The police were again thrust into the limelight this last week by Michael DeVito, President of the Joliet Fraternal Order Police Union. He addressed the mailing of a political campaign letter by a candidate for City Council, Rachel Ventura, to a number of police officers at their residences. The nature of the letter was apparently a rebuttal of information previously given to union members that was misleading, in the opinion of the candidate. The contents of the letter were not being disputed by the union official. What DeVito questioned was how candidate Ventura obtained the mailing list.

According to Ventura the list was compiled from various public records, including the city’s own website, listing police salaries, and voter registration lists. It may surprise some, but finding the address of an individual is not that tough. For instance, it is a matter of public record when a home is purchased, how much it cost and how much the mortgage is. In the case of police officers, many of them drive police cars home and park them on the street or in their driveway. The average person who lives on the block where the squad car is parked can assume an officer lives there whether they personally know the individual or family members, so if you really want an address of a police officer, it’s not that difficult to obtain.

By the way, parking a squad car at the home of an officer has been determined to be a deterrent to crime in the neighborhood. That must also apply to the officer and their family living in the neighborhood or what’s the point of doing it in the first place.

One can assume police officers and their families attend church, go shopping, as well as other social and business events in the community. They probably also receive junk mail from various sources who have obtained their mailing address from other sources. If all of this puts the officers and their families at risk then I assume we’re all at risk, and we most certainly are, every day.

I suspect what really is going on here is political theater. It’s hard work running for any elected office. I can personally attest to that fact. The last thing a candidate wants to do is jeopardize anyone’s safety, police officer or otherwise.

Two weeks ago, police officers were characterized as unable to do their jobs without special powers accorded to the Mayor of Joliet. This week we hear the lives of their families are in danger because a candidate has their mailing address. That seems a bit exaggerated.