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posted: 2/22/2013 9:46 AM

Editorial: With second chance come obligations

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

Getting a second chance is a precious gift to anyone who has ever made a mistake. It's a shot at a new beginning, maybe even a clean slate. Often, it's a simple reflection of the faith someone has in us that we are not defined by our mistake. But such an opportunity comes with a serious responsibility -- to show that the faith is warranted, that important lessons have been learned.

In other words, don't blow it.

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A couple of second chances reported in the Daily Herald in the past week are worth noting.

Lake Zurich Police Officer Vincent TeRonde was granted a "last chance" contract that saved his job after he was involved in an alcohol-related accident and caught carrying a loaded service pistol in a duffle bag on the front seat of his truck in McHenry last September.

Instead of losing his job, TeRonde got a 30-day suspension, several years of probation, including random drug and alcohol testing, and assurance that he can be fired for any conduct violating terms of his contract.

Chief Patrick Finlon said the deal was a fair way to retain a 23-year employee who has provided good service to the police department and the community.

The Antioch Village Board also was looking for a way to maintain a valuable service while assuring it's not abused when the board decided to grant the troubled Antioch Rescue Squad a final 90-day contract extension. The rescue squad has been under fire for months over misconduct allegations involving supervisors and employees.

Trustees told squad officials they must improve communication with the village, turn over detailed financial records in a timely manner, provide billing information on how patients are charged and start to answer whether it would be best to consolidate operations with the Antioch Fire Protection District.

We all make mistakes, some pretty serious. But the disappointment bar is raised even higher when public servants are involved, especially those counted on to protect and save lives.

Was a second chance warranted in each of these cases? Not everyone will agree.

But what we all do want to see, what we are sure you want to see, is that these second chances lead to something good.

Whether it's making better and safer personal choices or replacing bad behavior with strong leadership to provide a reliable, efficient emergency service for residents, something positive must come from this.

If not, the opportunity, the precious gift of a second chance, is wasted.

That can't be allowed to happen in these cases.

The common thread running through each of them is the obligation that accompanies the chance to right a wrong. That means being responsible, being accountable and most important, committing to justify the faith others have that you can be better.

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