Joliet Mayor O'Dekirk released the following statement today as he nominated four to the Joliet Fire and Police Commission:
"JOLIET — Joliet Mayor O’Dekirk today announced the nomination of four Joliet residents to serve as members of the Joliet Fire and Police Commission. O’Dekirk will submit the names of nominees-- Herb Lande, Todd Wooten, George Hernandez and Reverend Craig L. Purchase Sr.--to the Joliet City Council for confirmation at the City Council meeting on July 21st. The Joliet Fire and Police Commission is responsible for the evaluation, hiring, training and discipline of Joliet police officers and firefighters.
“The most important component of public safety is the hiring and training of qualified and suitable men and women to serve as police officers and fire fighters. The reason for stringent testing and rigorous training is because we want the right person for the job, and even then we will never know until that person is working on the street,” said O’Dekirk. “Our Fire and Police Commissioners carry a heavy burden to make sure we have the best and bravest working to protect our families.”
The transition report submitted to the City of Joliet emphasized that the City of Joliet should work harder to diversify the ranks of its police department and fire department through greater outreach to all eligible Joliet residents.
“Our public safety officers need to reflect the face of the community. One of the goals of the new Fire and Police Commissioners will be to create greater diversity in our public safety officer ranks so that our residents can relate better to our police officers and fire fighters while they are trying to do their jobs. There are more than enough eligible and qualified people in Joliet within every gender, race, orientation and classification to fill every vacancy that exists,” said O’Dekirk. “These nominees represent a diverse cross section of our community, and I am excited to have them usher in a new era of fair hiring practices that will ensure our public safety officers adequately represent our community.”
Todd Wooten served four years in the United States Marine Corps. In addition to successfully completing the U.S. Navy S.E.R.E. School (Survival, Evasion, Resistance & Escape), the U.S. Army Airborne School and being certified as a U.S. Army Ranger, Wooten was accepted into the ANGLICO Special Operations Unit (Air & Naval Gunfire Company). The military utilized Wooten’s training and experience by placing him inside Beirut, Lebanon as a forward observer identifying terrorist strongholds for bombardment targeting from the famed WWII battleship U.S.S. New Jersey.
Joining his extended family in Joliet after being honorably discharged from the service, Wooten became an Illinois Department of Corrections guard at Joliet’s Illinois Youth Center (IYC) in addition to moonlighting as the most overqualified bouncer ever to work at Joliet’s famous D’Amico’s restaurant and nightclub. Todd Wooten eventually applied for and was accepted as a member of the Joliet Fire Department in 1992. After serving as a Firefighter/Paramedic and Apparatus Operator, Wooten became the 3rd African-American promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. In 2003, Wooten received his final merit promotion to the rank of Captain and retired in 2013.
Herb Lande has been a resident of the Joliet area since 1971 and started his successful career in the construction industry as an Iron Worker and member of Local 444. In 1980, Lande established his own construction company and has been erecting steel framed buildings in Joliet and the greater Chicagoland area ever since. The work of Lande’s Imperial Construction Associates, Inc. can be seen in buildings throughout northern Illinois and in some of Joliet’s most prominent structures, including Silver Cross Field, the Joliet Junior College City Center Campus and numerous warehouses in the Joliet Business Center.
Lande’s commitment to his community and public service led him to become a member of the Will County Sheriff’s Police Auxiliary in 1986. Lande eventually was appointed to the rank of Captain of the 65 member force under Sheriff Kaupas and during his 25 years of service has worked in every municipality in Will County in both civil emergencies and routine crowd control duties.
Always a health and fitness enthusiast, Herb also began the Powerhouse Gym in the early 1980’s, which later grew into Five Star Fitness in 1994 with over 2000 members (mostly Joliet residents).
George Hernandez was born in Joliet in 1938. Aside from his service in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Navy Reserve for four years, George has always been a resident of Joliet. A graduate of Joliet Township High School and an alumni of both Joliet Junior College and Governor’s State University, Hernandez became the first Mexican-American to join the Joliet Police Department in 1966.
A graduate of the Northwestern University Traffic Institute as well as numerous advanced police training and executive administration seminars, George Hernandez was promoted to Sergeant in 1977, was promoted to Lieutenant in 1991 and retired in 2004 after 38 years of public service to the citizens of Joliet.
Reverend Craig L. Purchase Sr.
Born and raised in East St. Louis, Illinois, Craig Purchase became dedicated to the church early in life after feeling the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit in his life. Following that transformational prayer meeting with his friends, he was determined to build a life helping others and leading his own ministry. Shortly after moving to Joliet, the Reverend Purchase furthered his education at the Moody Bible Institute, Joliet Junior College and the Chicago Baptist Institute.
The Reverend Purchase is married to the love of his life, Debra Cox Purchase and will soon celebrate 40 years of marriage. Craig and Debra have four children — Kimberly, Craig Jr., Jeremy, Nicholas — and 13 grandchildren. Also working fulltime over the years to support his family, Craig Purchase worked for United Parcel Service for 12 Years and Federal Express for 18 years.
Reverend Craig Purchase Sr. has served as the Pastor of Mt. Zion Full Gospel Tabernacle in Joliet, IL for 19 years and also served as the Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Ottawa, Illinois for 9 years and Youth Pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Lockport, Illinois for 13 years. Purchase has served in various assignments and leadership roles throughout the church, including as Second Assistant to the Bishop of Central Western District United Holy Church of America Inc., District Elder for Illinois Indiana Sub district, Vice-President of Illinois Indiana Sub-District, and the co- chairman Board of Elders, in past President of District Evangelism Department. Pastor Purchase was Consecrated Bishop by the United Holy Church of America at the General Convocation at general headquarters in Greensboro, NC.
Pastor Purchase is the Founder and Director of Lift Him Up Ministries not-for-profit ministry that serves the whole man through the following entities: a food pantry that feeds 1300 families a month, a thrift Store and the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), and the “Every Child Can” After School Program and Summer Camp assisting over 60 at-risk children enrolled. He is also President of Rainbow PUSH Joliet Chapter. "