Why did Sycamore police not charge an Elgin cop with DUI?

Questions are being raised about the unusual treatment given to an Elgin police officer who was arrested, but not charged with, DUI by Sycamore police.

From the Northwest Herald:

Police Chief Glenn Theriault has been on administrative leave since April 10 as the city investigates why an Elgin police officer arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence was released without charges.

Records obtained by the Daily Chronicle through the Freedom of Information Act show a Sycamore officer was building a driving under the influence case against Elgin Police Sgt. Mark Whaley after an early morning traffic stop Saturday, April 8. Whaley, who has been a police officer for almost 23 years, was handcuffed and driven to the police station, where he was processed. Theriault, who worked with Whaley on the Elgin police force, also went to the police station that night.

Whaley later was released without even a traffic ticket because of lack of evidence, according to the police report.

The report shows Whaley, 46, declined field sobriety tests and declined to provide a breath sample at the Sycamore police station. It does not say whether Whaley was issued a DUI ticket or read the “warning to motorist” that could have triggered a suspension of his license for a year for refusing chemical testing under Illinois law.

Cellphone records show Theriault had three early morning phone conversations with an Elgin police commander and later helped to ensure that a $500 administrative towing fee was waived for Whaley, bypassing a hearing process prescribed by city code.

“Tough position for you and all last night,” read a text sent by Theriault hours later to the arresting officer, Luke Kampmeier. “I’m thinking of the rock-and-glass houses story.”

“A valuable experience for me, albeit unpleasant,” Kampmeier replied. “Tonight we will stick to parking tickets.”

,,,

The episode began around 1:40 a.m. Saturday, April 8. In his report, Kampmeier – who joined the force out of college in 2014 – wrote that he stopped a silver 2005 Ford F-150 pickup on Somonauk Street near High Street after he saw the driver almost cause a traffic crash at the intersection of State and California streets. Reasons given for the stop were noted as “fail to signal, overtake on right, no front license plate.”

In his report, Kampmeier wrote that the driver, Whaley, smelled strongly of alcohol. His speech was “thick-tongued,” his eyes glassy and bloodshot, his movements “slow and deliberate.”

Whaley told Kampmeier he had recently dropped off his wife and child downtown, then changed his story to say he was in the area for training and had one beer in Sycamore before driving, according to Kampmeier’s report. A story by the Daily Herald about Whaley saving a boy’s life with CPR in 2011 said he lived near DeKalb at the time.

After Whaley refused field sobriety tests, Kampmeier arrested him on suspicion of DUI, records show.

A second officer, Blake Powers, a 2016 police academy graduate, searched Whaley’s vehicle and found an unopened bottle of Miller Lite near the passenger seat, according to police reports.

You can read the whole story here.  Normally, in this situation, the person will be charged with DUI.  Often in Sycamore, the police will seek a warrant to obtain a blood draw.  Getting released without being charged is a rare gift indeed.  We should all be so lucky.

Lake Co. Sheriff charged with perjury for testimony in DUI case

From the Chicago Tribune (reported by Jim Newton):

Deputy Sheriff Justin Hill, 28, of Kenosha, was indicted by a Lake County grand jury Wednesday on three felony counts of perjury, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office…

According to Sgt. Christopher Covelli of the Sheriff’s Office, inconsistencies were allegedly discovered in Hill’s testimony during a court hearing on the potential statutory summary suspension of a DUI defendant’s driver’s license. The testimony was allegedly given by Hill on Nov. 2.

Covelli and Jim Elliot, deputy chief of the Sheriff’s Office of Professional Standards, said the Sheriff’s Office is working with the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office to determine whether any other cases in which Hill was involved could be impacted.

According to Elliot, each DUI case in which Hill was the arresting officer or was involved would be reviewed individually, and the State’s Attorney’s Office would decide whether each case would move forward based on all evidence involved.

Elliot said he does not believe there will be any blanket dismissal of cases in which Hill was involved. He added that he was unsure how many cases were to be reviewed.

A spokesperson for the State’s Attorney’s Office said Wednesday the number of cases was not immediately available, but would soon be released.

Following the Nov. 2 hearing, the Sheriff’s Office was notified Nov. 23 that “inconsistencies with Hill’s testimony (that) potentially resulted in perjury” had been discovered, according to Covelli.

Hill was placed on administrative leave and relieved of his police powers following an investigation by the Office of Professional Standards, Covelli said.

“You have a right to an attorney” – but will you actually get to talk to one?

According to the Chicago Tribune, Cook County Chief Judge has issued an order requiring the Chicago Police Department to provide suspects with access to a lawyer upon arrest.  However, the mechanics of how this will work in reality were left murky.

Until this order, when a person is arrested, they are advised of their “Miranda rights” which includes the right to an attorney.  But this is a mere formality; the police will usually encourage the arrestee to “make it easy” on everyone by “explaining” what happened “so you can get out of here.”

Usually, when I get a call from someone that his or her relative has been arrested, it becomes a race for me to get to the station before the “explaining” starts.  If I call up the station to tell them not to question my client until I arrive, I will be told that the “detective is busy right now” and he or she will get back to me “when they get a chance” (i.e., after my client has confessed).

So I was gladdened to see the headlines about Chief Judge Evans Order requiring access to attorneys.  In my mind, I envisioned a public defender or two getting a space at each Chicago Police Station (like the State’s Attorney have) and getting the opportunity to interview and advise each arrestee.  Of course, I also imagined that this would not go over too well with the police, who have no interest in having lawyers interfering with their cases and preventing confessions.

But I am concerned about the lack of implementation in the Order (which I have not read).  According to the Tribune:

But the success of such an order may ultimately depend on the cooperation of Chicago police, who in the past, say legal aid officials, have been reluctant to grant suspects phone calls or give attorneys access to suspects while they’re being questioned.

A Chicago police spokesman said Tuesday the department has agreed to post signs with a phone number for “free legal services” in arrestee areas and outside interview rooms but did not comment on questions about granting phone calls to those in custody.

Posting signs is not much of an improvement.  They are almost certain to go unnoticed.  On the other hand, Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli is quoted as saying, “I’m going to make it happen — this is way too important. This is groundbreaking,” she said. “I could have every lawyer do (a rotation) if I don’t get the funding.”  She is an aggressive advocate, and I am convinced she will work hard to provide representation.  But this will be a battle, because I expect that without an Order specifically stating what “access” entails, the PD’s office will face resistance from the CPD.

What do you think?

Another case of a police officer arrested for DUI who refuses all tests

As a DUI defense attorney, people always ask me, “should I perform the tests?”  And my answer is, do what police officers do.

From the Chicago Tribune:

A Woodstock police officer faces arraignment in March for driving under the influence after he crashed his pick-up truck in Round Lake Beach about two weeks ago.

The officer was identified as Michael E. Niedzwiecki, 29, of Lake Villa, who was charged with DUI and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, according to a Round Lake Beach Police Department report.

The accident occurred Feb. 11 at 1:49 a.m. on Hainesville Road when Niedzwiecki’s 2007 Ford F250 pick-up went out of control while traveling northbound on a curve close to Clarendon Drive and struck a telephone pole, according to the report, which added that power lines knocked down by the crash blocked northbound traffic on Hainesville between Rollins Road and Clarendon.

According to the report, Niedzwiecki told one of the officers at the scene that he forgot about the sharp curve to the left in the roadway, and that is why he lost control of his truck. The report added that both Niedzwiecki and a woman who identified herself as his wife went to a nearby McDonald’s after the accident and before police arrived to get help.

The officer wrote in the report that Niedzwiecki was slurring his words and had glassy bloodshot eyes and an unsteady gait. “I could smell a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage,” the officer wrote.

When an officer asked Niedzwiecki to do a field sobriety test, Niedzwiecki refused and when asked to submit to a breath test, which he also refused, according to the report, and he was placed under arrest for DUI and was also cited for failure to reduce speed. When asked to make a statement about the accident, Niedzwiecki refused again, the report states.

According to the report, at one point, Niedzwiecki showed an officer his Woodstock police officer badge and identification card.

Read the whole story here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/crime/ct-lns-woodstock-officer-charged-dui-st-0225-20170224-story.html

Expect Heightened DUI Patrols Super Bowl Weekend

Police reports are gearing up for an expected uptick of drunk drivers this weekend.

From the Chicago Police:

The Chicago Police Department is conducting DUI Saturation Patrols in the Wentworth (2nd) and Near West (12th) Districts this weekend. The DUI Saturation Patrol in the Wentworth (2nd) District will commence at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, February 3, 2017 and end at 3:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 4, 2017. The DUI Saturation Patrol in the Near West (12th) District will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 4, 2017 and end at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, February 5, 2017.
The Illinois State Police will be out in force as well:

The Illinois State Police Department says they are increasing patrols for super bowl weekend to crack down on drunk drivers.

State troopers will also be on the lookout for speeding seat belts and distracted driving.

Public safety officer Sean Ramsey says you won’t just see state police out on the highway.

“We can be on the interstate, state routes, in town,” Illinois State Police Trooper Sean Ramsey said. “So really they have the latitude to go where they want. Where they think that these violations may be occurring.”

The Cook County Sheriff has also announced that it will be conducting heightened efforts:

Cook County Sheriff’s Police are scheduled to conduct enhanced patrols this weekend, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today.

Sheriff’s Police are conducting countywide DUI enforcement patrols today, Saturday and Sunday nights. They will also be on the lookout for those violating seatbelt laws, today, Saturday and Monday.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office will conduct special traffic patrols this Super Bowl weekend, cracking down on alcohol-impaired drivers, drug-impaired drivers, and those not wearing their seatbelts.

Buffalo Grove police will be out in force this Super Bowl weekend, cracking down on seat belt law violators and alcohol and drug-impaired drivers.

Department officials announced the beefed up patrol efforts last week, reminding residents, “If you plan on drinking alcohol while cheering on your team, pass your keys to a sober driver before the Super Bowl party begins.”

The initiative coincides with the statewide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.

Other police departments will be out as well.  Please be safe and don’t drink and drive!

If a police officer does this when arrested for DUI, shouldn’t you too?

An off-duty Hammond, Indiana police officer was pulled over by a State Trooper and the Trooper suspected that alcohol was a factor.  What did the off-duty cop do?  He refused to perform field sobriety tests or take a breath test.  What does he know that you don’t?

From the Chicago Tribune:

A Hammond police officer was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated early Saturday morning after an Indiana state trooper observed him veer across lanes of traffic on Interstate 65 and nearly drive off the road, the Indiana State Police said.

Mathew L. Anderson, 30, of Hammond, was arrested shortly after 2 a.m. on State Road 2, just south of the Indiana State Police post, after the trooper followed him as he exited from I-65, a news release from the state police said.

The trooper was making a traffic stop on I-65, just north of the Lowell/Hebron exit in Lake County, when he saw a 2007 Honda Civic “that had just passed in the left lane veer abruptly over to the exit ramp to (State Road) 2 while nearly (running) off the roadway, traveling completely onto the right shoulder,” the release said. “It was so abrupt the female driver of the traffic stop also observed the vehicle and stated, ‘Oh my God!’ ”

The trooper followed the car onto westbound State Route 2, watching as the driver weaved on the road and drove on the right shoulder, the release said.

When the trooper pulled Anderson over, he identified himself as a Hammond police officer and said he had weapons in the car, the release said. The trooper said he could smell alcohol on Anderson’s breath, but Anderson refused to take a Breathalizer test or field sobriety tests, according to the release.

Anderson was charged with two counts of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and one of unsafe lane movement.

Chicago Police DUI Strike Force to conduct Saturation Patrols this weekend

From the Chicago Police Department website:

DUI SATURATION PATROL– Shakespeare (014th) DISTRICT

The Chicago Police Department will be conducting a DUI Strike Force Patrol in the

Shakespeare (014th) District this weekend. The DUI Strike Force Patrol will commence at 6:00

p.m. on Saturday, November 19, 2016 and end at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 20, 2016.

The purpose of this program is to saturate a pre-designated area with roving police officers

that continually monitor vehicular traffic for signs of impaired driving. Patrols also place

emphasis on speed, alcohol-related and safety belt violations. Police vehicles equipped for

speed detection are deployed to apprehend speeding violators.

In addition, the Breath Alcohol Testing (BAT) Mobile Unit may also be deployed to allow

officers to expedite the process of charging a person with Driving under the Influence (DUI)

prior to transporting an alleged into the nearest lockup for bonding. The mobile unit also allows

for Individual Recognizance Bonds (I-Bonds) to be issued at the site of the DUI Strike Force

Patrol.