Police chief falls victim to politics

February 14, 2014 

A lot can change in five months. Just ask Jose Alvarez, the recently hired and now fired Caseyville police chief.

In September, Alvarez seemed just what the village needed to rebuild its Police Department's reputation following the suicide of former Police Chief J.D. Roth, the subject of a federal investigation.

Alvarez came with glowing letters of recommendation from St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly, Sheriff Rick Watson and Circuit Judge Robert Haida, the previous state's attorney.

"I have never been more sure about a recommendation as I am about this one," Haida wrote at the time.

But this week, Mayor Len Black announced he wanted to go "a different direction," and fired Alvarez without even the courtesy of a phone call.

Alvarez didn't suddenly become a bad choice for the job; the politics apparently has shifted. He was Kelly's, Watson's and Haida's guy, not Black's. In September that was enough to get him the job but in February it was not enough for him to keep it. As Caseyville was just reminded, the police chief serves at the political pleasure of the mayor.

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