Twins follow in footsteps of their Chicago Police parents
By Stefano Esposito Staff Reporter September 29, 2013 4:36PM
Twins Jim (left) and Joseph Paoletti with their parents, James and Grayce Paoletti — both retired Chicago Police officers — last week after graduating from the Chicago Police Academy. | Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times
Updated: November 1, 2013 6:08AM
As boys, twins Jim and Joseph Paoletti would put on their parents’ Chicago Police hats and marvel at the black leather “gadget” belt their father strapped on before he ventured out into the city after dark — like Batman.
“You’re a kid and you have to go to bed at a certain time, but he was going to work,” Joseph Paoletti said. “I knew he was out fighting crime and keeping the city safe.”
The twins, now 25, are getting their own taste of life on the city’s streets — after graduating together this month from the Chicago Police Academy, following in their mother’s and father’s footsteps.
“All the little kids are waving at us and asking us how they can become police officers,” said Jim Paoletti, who, with his brother, is monitoring one of the Safe Passage school routes on the South Side. “I tell them to make sure they stay in school.”
The routes citywide were created to help students traveling to new schools after the historic closing of nearly 50 Chicago Public Schools earlier this year.
While other kids might dream of driving race cars, flying jets — or at least doing anything but what their parents do — the Paoletti twins, who grew up on the Southwest Side, both say they only ever really wanted to be cops.
“We both looked up to our parents,” Joseph Paoletti said. “We both wanted to serve, do good. It’s the action and the excitement. Different things happen every day. You can’t predict it.”
None of that means the Paoletti boys — fraternal, not identical twins — think or act exactly alike.
“I’m a little bit more laid back and calmer,” Joseph Paoletti said. “My brother is little bit more — I’m trying to think of the right word — he’s a little bit more serious.”
Their parents couldn’t be happier about the career choice.
Grayce Paoletti, 61, a sergeant who retired after 29 years with CPD, said she was in tears when she watched her sons graduate at Navy Pier on a stage with city leaders that included Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy.
“It was a moment of such tremendous pride,” she said. “And for my husband and I, we had a struggle way back to have kids. When we had our twins, it was an absolute miracle.”
She knows she’ll worry about her sons’ safety, but she says: “I’m a very religious person. I just put all my faith in God.”
James Paoletti, 61, who retired as a CPD captain in 2008 after 38 years with the department, is now chief of police for the village of Crete. He said he never tried to prod his boys toward another path.
“By all means, as a parent, I would have loved them to become a lawyer, a doctor or an airline pilot,” said James Paoletti, who spent his entire career patrolling the city’s streets. “This is what they wanted to do. You can either be extremely supportive or you can turn your back. And we chose to be supportive.”