Waltrip Administration Needs to Move Beyond Personal Vendettas in Police Chief Fiasco

As prepared for delivery this evening, here are the remarks of MySocialJacksonville.com administrator Colby Huff to the South Jacksonville Board of Trustees regarding the current “administrative leave” of SJPD Chief Josh Hallock.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Board –

I spoke to you one week ago tonight about the “administrative leave” that this administration placed upon Chief Josh Hallock. I said to you then that this did not feel like a proper decision to been made. I said to you then that Chief Hallock chose to authorize the “Wet Lab” training session under not only advice, as it has been explained to me, of the Village Attorney, Mr. Cross, but also under prior precedent. I said to you then that the only action that should result from this “investigation” – being fully funded by the taxpayers of a community that finds the entire thing ridiculous – is, at most, a formal statement from this administration that President Waltrip did not approve of the training session and would have preferred to have been given the opportunity to decline permission for it to be held in the Village of South Jacksonville. All of these statements, I reiterate to you this evening.

Tonight, I would like to address a different side of this issue… one that I believe to be the basis to why we’re even here.

Why does this entire situation feel so much like a personal vendetta that is being orchestrated by someone inside of this administration? From the outside looking in – having only been given the blessing to speak on the record as to the framework of the situation, not the entirety – there appears to be no wrongdoing here. Why is a good police officer, a good leader, and most importantly, a good man whose heart is absolutely in the right place, being subjected to an unjust examination of his professional career? The training session that has prompted this personnel action by President Waltrip – which is clearly not supported by at least half of this Board – was lawful, conducted under guidelines established by the Illinois State Police, and performed for multiple police agencies with the express purpose of bringing about more effective policing of not only South Jacksonville, but other municipalities who sent officers to participate.

If this is truly a vendetta and a matter of personal objections to the decisions made by Josh Hallock that affect solely his personal life, I ask you all to please step back for a moment and consider what you’re doing. Is it fair to ask our police officers – regardless of their rank – to focus 100% of their energy, all day every day, on being police officers? Is it fair to ask them to not have a need to find activities that can take their mind off of the grueling work that faces them when they are wearing the uniform? Is it fair to ask a man to put aside his dreams of putting out music and sharing his artistic vision with the world, just because he wears an extra bar on his collar or a few extra words on his badge?

Is it fair to ask a police officer to be a saintly individual, in all things that they do? Is it fair to judge an officer for the things that they may have to deal with in their personal life outside of the squad car, police station, and while not wearing the uniform that are neither illegal nor have anything whatsoever to do with their ability to effectively do their job?

Is it fair to not follow the words of John, Chapter 8, Verse 7 – “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone” – when considering one’s personal life choices and deciding to hold them to a different standard than you hold your own self?

No.

Emphatically and resoundingly, NO.

I’m not going to be privy to the words that will be spoken in your Executive Session this evening. Unfortunately, the Public as a whole will never be able to hear those words, unless this body at some future date votes to release the Minutes of the session. But, as you hear them and you add your own, I urge each member of this body to look at the big picture and see it from the point of view of the persecuted. This matter is a non-issue and shouldn’t have even been brought up in the first place. If there is political motivation involved… We have an election in two months, after which point the new Village President will have the opportunity to make a number of personnel decisions commensurate with their position; take your action, as you see fit, then. Tonight, I urge this body to restore Chief Josh Hallock to his position, with back pay, and move on.

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