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Demoted Chief Retires: ‘It Was An Honor To Have Been Your Chief’

JOLIET, IL — At this time a year ago, Dawn Malec was in the middle of her first summer as Joliet’s police chief. She got to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Joliet Slammers baseball game.

Now, her career at the Joliet Police Department is over. She has retired after 28 years of service.

After realizing he made a mistake by promoting Malec to replace Al Roechner in January 2021, city manager Jim Capparelli removed Malec as police chief in October. He subsequently went outside the department, hiring Bill Evans of Chicago as Joliet’s first outside police chief since the 1990s.

After 24 years on the job, Evans retired from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in September 2016 where he was a lieutenant. He spent several years in a command position investigating gang activity and 16 years in the SWAT unit. He was one of four candidates in the 2014 Democratic primary, finishing in second to incumbent Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

Bill Evans became the Joliet Police Department’s first outside chief since the 1990s. Image via city of Joliet

As for Malec, she spent the past eight months back at her old rank, a traffic patrol lieutenant.

On Oct. 6, Capparelli announced he had fired Malec and that her employment with the city of Joliet had ended immediately. Sources told Joliet Patch at the time that she struggled in the position and “was in way over her head.”

Days later, Capparelli became aware of a city ordinance that allowed Malec to return to her former position. As a result, Malec’s firing was respinded, and she was given a demotion and a salary reduction.

Last week marked Malec’s final week on the job with the Joliet Police Department. She had been a member of the Joliet police force since 1994. Before she left, Malec emailed the Joliet Police Department, letting everyone know that if she sees them around, she has their back.

“I am proud to have served/worked with you. Regardless of the negative rhetoric you hear from some people, we have a great department, and it was an honor to have been your chief,” Malec wrote in her departing correspondence.

“Always watch out for each other,” Malec stated.

She also wrote that “it was an honor to have been your chief. Best wishes to you all. Be safe and stay strong.”

Last December, Joliet Patch broke the news that Malec was willing to leave and retire in 2022 if Joliet gave her a lump sum payout of $400,000 “to compensate her for the damage to her reputation,” according to a proposed settlement submitted by Malec’s attorney, Naomi Frisch of the Chicago law firm of Asher, Gittler & D’Alba.

The Joliet City Council did not approve Malec’s settlement proposal.

In any event, Malec spent most of her Joliet police career in patrol operations. She was promoted to sergeant in 2009, lieutenant in 2014, and she spent nine months as police chief in 2021.

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