Editorial: Not the hero he appeared

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 5, 2015

The ongoing debate about police officers’ use of lethal force — and the fear that officers are  being targeted as a result — took a disturbing detour this week when the September death of an Illionois officer was found to be a carefully staged suicide rather than an attack by criminal suspects he was chasing.

What a tragedy for all involved. The officer, Fox Lake Police Lt. Joe Gliniewicz, was held up as a hero who sacrificed his life in the line of duty. When evidence at the scene suggested he’d been attacked, a massive and, as it turns out, totally unnecessary manhunt ensued.

Now investigators are saying Gliniewicz lived a double life, forging signatures on official documents over a seven year period to get money for personal expenses from gym memberships to mortgage payments. He was in a downward spiral.

This is a betrayal of Gliniewicz’s department and of law enforcement officers everywhere — including those who searched for his supposed killers and the throngs who took part in his funeral — and a betrayal of his family. The suicide is also a tragedy for Gliniewicz, whose good deeds as an officer will be forever overshadowed by the last chapter of his life and his desperate, deceitful death. He thought suicide was the answer to his problems. Instead, it was the ultimate act of deception.