It happens to all of us at onetime or another, the awareness that’s it’s time to go. Sometimes we have the awareness, while at other times someone enlightens us with that awareness. Maybe it’s a relationship, a job, or something else, but it eventually happens.
It’s about this time of the year when major league baseball managers are replaced, out with the old or unsuccessful, in with the new and the promise of better things to come. A manager can be recognized as Manager-of-the-Year one year, and get fired the next year. He’s the same guy, but the team’s performance is underwhelming. The owner can’t get rid of 25 players, so it’s the manager that takes the hit. It’s not fair, but that’s how it works; life is not fair.
That point was made clear to me in grade school when my teacher asked my friend and me to break a Hershey Almond candy bar exactly in half so each of us had the same amount of chocolate, and the same number of almonds. One of us always had more chocolate or almonds than the other guy.
Target Corporation had a huge data breach that occurred in late 2013 that affected more than 41 million customer payment card accounts. It affected Target’s overall sales, revenues, and profits for months which ultimately led to the resignation of Target’s outstanding chairman, president and chief executive officer Gregg Steinhafel in May 2014. Was it his fault? Was it fair? Of course not, but it occurred under his watch and it was time to go.
The Naperville Police Department has had a flurry of misfortune and and bad press recently, including inappropriate behavior in the backseat of a patrol car by two non-police individuals, an auto accident involving a patrol car resulting in the death of a resident, the suicide of a 16-year old high school youth after allegedly untimely questioning, a negative report that crime is escalating in Naperville, and a Niche.com listing of the Top 100 safest places to live in Illinois and Naperville was not listed.
Any one of those is reason for concern, however cumulatively, it raises a huge red flag, that ‘something is definitely not right’, and someone needs to be held accountable. It has to be the police chief, Bob Marshall. It’s all happened, and more, under his watch.
It’s time for him to go. Is it fair? Probably not, but when numerous, not-good things happen on someone’s watch, that person has to be accountable. Bob Marshall was an outstanding Naperville police officer for many years before retiring from the department and resurfacing as the deputy assistant city manager where he did an average job, before resurfacing again in the Police Department as the police chief. The City of Naperville has a way of recycling people into different positions, rather than looking for new and fresh talent from outside. It’s been referred to as bureaucratic “incest”. Just keep reshuffling people from one position to another. That’s not how successful businesses work, but it’s how local government works.
It’s not that the internal employees selected for open positions or promotion are not qualified, but it would be nice if external candidates had a more level playing field, as the city did when they hired Director of Finance, Rachel Mayer from Joliet. That worked, but it happens infrequently in Naperville.
Watch and listen to NPD Chief Bob Marshall as he attempts to add some insight to the tragic event involving the high school youth:
Marshall refers to the “frenzy of media attention”. Of course this happens, this is a huge, tragic story, that gives Naperville the type of national press is doesn’t need. Marshall continued by saying, “the community is frustrated that answers are not out there yet”. Maybe this wouldn’t have happened if the city hadn’t waited for 146 days to make some kind of comment. Marshall concluded by saying ‘kids’ need to “turn to trusted adults for help and guidance”. That is absolutely true, but apparently this youth wasn’t given the time to “turn to trusted adults for help and guidance” before choosing self-inflicted capital punishment for his solution.
Life was not fair for this youth, and it’s not fair to Naperville Police Chief Bob Marshall. Maybe as unfair as it is for Marshall to go, at least he has the option. The same can’t be said for the young high school student.
Marshall was chief the previous years when Naperville did make Niche’s 100 safest list. As I commented on a previous Watchdog’s (about crime escalating), crime rates are up in every Chicagoland community not just Naperville. In fact last year no city with a safety rating of less then A- made Niche’s 100 safest list last year, this year 15% of the city have a less than A- safety rating. And even with not making the 100 safety cities Niche still listed Naperville as the 2nd best city in the state to live in.
The cause for these increased crime stats is not so much a sign that our police force isn’t doing as good a job as they have in years past but that the criminals have changed their behavior in a way that can only be effectively counter by a change in behavior by Naperville Resident. The major jump was in property crimes most notably car break-ins and theft. Naperville is an easy target for these types of crimes because of residents tend to leave their cars unlock as well as leave valuables in their car (including car keys). Once residents become more proactive and start locking their cars and removing valuables we as a community well be a less welcoming place for criminals to do business, they will move on and our crime stats will drop.
I agree that when leadership has show a consistent pattern of not being successful then it is time to look for new leadership. But Chief Marshall has several years of successfully leading the Naperville police department, a single year failure on one metric simply does not justify any call for his replacement.
And while the death of the youth mentioned is indeed tragic it is important to remember that is was just the last inf a series bad decision this youth made. The most consistent being a failure to ask any adult for guidance and help before acting; not his parents, not his school counselor, not his most trusted teacher and lastly not his principal. This youth had choice, chances and opportunities that would have avoided this tragedy. Chances and choices he did not give the young lady he victimized which brought him to the attention of authorities in the first place.