In response to concerns from Joliet residents about a sharp increase in shootings on the city’s west side, a town hall meeting was held Wednesday to discuss the issue, and possible solutions.
It was a packed house at the VFW Post 367 on Wednesday, as residents gathered to voice their concerns, with members of the Joliet Police Department and City Council on hand.
City officials called the meeting for open dialogue surrounding the spike in violent crimes, including a triple homicide that occurred in 2017 on Great Falls Drive.
Mayor Bob O’Dekirk announced at the meeting that the city has hired nine new police officers in an effort to help stem the increase in violence, but some residents expressed skepticism about the department’s practices.
“We are listed at a 30 percent safety rating out of 100. While violent crime has risen, sadly, so has the abuse of power,” resident Rachel Ventura said.
Some residents called for the removal of Police Chief Al Roechner, but Mayor O’Dekirk emphasized that the department still has his confidence, but said that the department, and the city, can do better in addressing the violence.
“There’s no denying that there’s an uptick, but it’s not an epidemic,” Councilman Larry Hug said. “Our saying is to get ahead of it right now so it doesn’t become an epidemic.”