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Waukegan mayor dismisses rumors about new police chief

Robert Kerkorian

Robert Kerkorian

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Updated: July 8, 2013 6:36AM

Mayor Wayne Motley said Thursday, June 6, that he will stand behind Police Chief Robert Kerkorian in the aftermath of a published report accusing the chief of falsely stating on his original department job application that he underwent training to become a Navy SEAL.

“Of course, everyone knows that Chief Kerkorian and I are very good friends,” said Motley, a retired Waukegan police officer who served with Kerkorian on the department’s SWAT team. “I trust his judgement, I trust his abilities, I think he’s a man of character.

“What occured prior to him becoming a Waukegan police officer is not part and parcel of what he’s done since becoming a member of the police department,” Motley added. “I never talked to (him) about his past military history, and to me, it really is irrelevant. That’s his personal business.”

A report published this week by the Chicago Tribune stated that Kerkorian listed Navy SEAL training on his 1987 Waukegan police job application, though a check of military records failed to corroborate that claim.

Kerkorian declined comment on the matter Thursday through a city spokesman. But Motley, speaking from a downstate conference, said he hopes the community can look past what he called “rumors and innuendo.”

“What he did 27 years ago doesn’t concern me,” Motley said. “I hope people assess (Kerkorian) for what he’s done on the police department. He’s had a stellar performance as a police officer, and he’s done tremendous things for the community.”

Kerkorian was sworn in to replace Daniel Greathouse on May 6 after the City Council voted unanimously to confirm his appointment by Motley, who described him to the council as “a friend of mine (who) covered my back more than once.”

In a memo to aldermen prior to the appointment, Motley praised Kerkorian as “an exceptionally driven and determined police officer with a 26-year history of solid policing supervision, managing and directing projects, divisions and officers.”

“As you are aware, I ran on a platform of moving Waukegan forward and made a commitment to reinvigorate our police department,” Motley wrote.

“Robert Kerkorian serving this fine community as chief is an integral part of my plan.”

According to information supplied by the city at the time of Kerkorian’s appointment as chief, the Waukegan native began his career as a patrol officer in 1987 and worked as a SWAT team member and supervisor, a sergeant in the patrol division, a lieutenant in the gang/narcotics division, and as an investigator in the gang, juvenile and criminal divisions.

His most recent assignment prior to becoming chief was as commander of the patrol division.

Motley reported to the council that Kerkorian “has been on the ground floor of creating new or causing existing units to flourish. He builds strong teams and garners collaboration from supervisors and subordinates.”

Biographical information reported to the council at that time did not mention any service in the Navy. The report stated that Kerkorian holds a bachelor’s degree from Albion College in Michigan and is a graduate of Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command.

Asked if he anticipates any public criticism of Kerkorian, Motley said nothing could change his opinion about his former colleague.

“I worked alongside of this man. I have the utmost respect for this man,” Motley said. “We have a very strong bond that’s unbreakable, and I’ll stand by Robert Kerkorian.”

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