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Waukegan mayor calls police chief’s past military history ‘irrelevant’

Robert Kerkorian

Robert Kerkorian

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Updated: July 22, 2013 7:04PM

Mayor Wayne Motley reiterated his support for Police Chief Robert Kerkorian on Thursday, June 20, after retired Lake County State’s Attorney investigator Mark Pleasant called for an independent investigation into whether or not the chief falsely claimed on a 1987 city job application to have trained as a Navy SEAL.

“I think that the citizens of Waukegan have a right to know what that truth is,” Pleasant said to the City Council on Monday, June 17, stressing that he was speaking as a resident of the city and not in any way related to his career as a Lake County law enforcement community.

“This is a defining moment for Mayor Motley and his administration, and it’s a defining moment for this City Council,” Pleasant added.

“I ask all of you to join together in getting to the bottom of this (and) letting Waukegan know what the truth of the matter is.”

A published report in early June stated Kerkorian’s original Waukegan Police application listed a six-month stint in the Navy in the mid-1980s that included SEAL training, a claim that did not match military records.

Motley named Kerkorian, a former Waukegan Police Department colleague, to the chief’s post after being sworn in as mayor in early May.

After the account about the SEAL training went public, Motley told the News-Sun that “I never talked to (him) about his past military history, and to me, it really is irrelevant. That’s his personal business.”

Pleasant referred directly to those comments during his remarks to the council.

Mayor Motley dismissed it as essentially being irrelevant to his qualifications to function as the chief of police in Waukegan. I respectfully disagree,” said Pleasant, who told the council he comes from a military family.

“Chief Kerkorian is reported by many to have been a very good police officer throughout his career, and I sincerely appreciate his service to the community. However, any claim to have trained among our nation’s most elite military warriors, if it’s false, is most serious and relevant.”

Pleasant called for the city to conduct an investigation “independent of anyone directly or indirectly involved, because the truth of this matter should be discovered through a clear lens and not through the prism of friendship, bias or any other dynamic that could distort the bottom line.”

Motley said Thursday that he has “no plans on doing an investigation,” saying he was “satisfied with his response to me” during a private discussion of the situation with Kerkorian.

“My respect and support for the chief hasn’t changed. (I) know it’s a troubled time for him, but I’m not going to abandon him,” said Motley, adding that “I don’t know what anyone expects me to do after 26 years.”

Motley added that he feels Kerkorian “has been an outstanding police officer. Doesn’t that count for something?”

Kerkorian has not commented following publication of the article, and he again declined comment Thursday through a city spokesman. Asked if he feels Kerkorian should provide a public explanation, Motley said “if he wants to do that, that’s up to him. I’m not going to get involved with that.”

Both Motley and Pleasant said Thursday that they had spoken about the matter this week.

Pleasant said he came away with the impression that “there is not an inclination by the City Council or the mayor to conduct an investigation.”

Pleasant added that he plans to continue pushing for a public accounting of what he called a “troubling” inconsistency between information on Kerkorian’s employment application and documents he obtained from the Navy’s Special Warfare Command.

“It’s my belief that there are many other people in the community — and in the military community, in the retired military community — who are upset about this,” Pleasant said. “I have pursued this through the proper channels, (and) I’m going to continue to pursue this.”

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