Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists releases its list of Top Cops and Departments

The Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists has released its annual list of its “Top Cops” and Departments.

The list should be familiar to any attorney who practices in Chicago’s Traffic Court – 7 of the top 10 and 9 of the top 12 issue citations that are heard at the Richard J. Daley Center.  Only two of the top 12 officers are from outside Cook County.

Amazingly, four of the cops are from the same Chicago Police District.

Here is the list of the 12 cops who made the most DUI arrests in Illinois in 2016:

Rank
Title
Top Cops
Department
DUI Arrests
1 Trooper Eric David ISP District Chicago 297
2 Officer Timothy Walter Chicago District #19 210
3 Trooper Lucas Sniady ISP District Chicago 196
4 Officer Elliot Tupayachi Chicago District #19 180
5 Officer Phillip Travis Chicago District #16 128
6 Officer Tesfai Tewelde Chicago District #25 124
7 Officer Carlos Ortiz Chicago District #19 119
8 Investigator Andrew Hartman Rockford 118
9 Officer John Fermon Bloomington 107
10 Officer Dennis Dwyer Oak Lawn 105
10 Officer John Maclaren Chicago District #19 105
11 Officer Mark Januszewski Chicago District #24 103

 

Yes, you read that right.  One officer made 297 DUI arrests in a single calendar year.  Assuming that he gets 2 days off a week, plus one week of vacation per year – even without sick days that means he makes more than one DUI arrest per day.

In terms of Departments, here is the ranking (figures obtained from here and here)

State Police 5,619
Chicago 2,592
Rockford 459
Decatur 401
Elgin 365
Naperville 312
Cicero 305
Carol Stream 305
Bloomington 300
Normal 239
Aurora 234
Lombard 233
Springfield 230
Oak Lawn 223
Joliet 212

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!

Repeat DUI Offender who struck State Trooper Gets 13 year sentence

This is a follow-up to a story from two years ago.  Two days after pleading guilty to felony DUI, Leslie Thurow did it again, this time seriously injuring an Illinois State Trooper who was conducting a traffic stop in I-294.

One thing that didn’t repeat was her sentence.  She got probation for the earlier offense. This time, she got 13 years.

From the Chicago Tribune (story by Ted Gregory):

A chronic drunken driver who struck and nearly killed an Illinois state trooper in 2014 on Interstate 294 was sentenced to 13 years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to aggravated DUI and leaving the scene of an accident with injuries.

Leslie Thurow wept through much of the hourlong hearing at the Maywood courthouse. Guidelines requiring her to serve a specified percentage of her sentence mean the Mount Prospect woman likely will end up serving nine years in prison.

“My thing with this is I don’t want to see her hurt anybody else again,” Trooper Michael Cokins, 30, said of the sentence. “Hopefully nine years prevents her from killing someone else or herself. She obviously has no regard for human life.”

A crying Thurow, 61, said she was “truly sorry” for striking Cokins about 2:45 p.m. Sept. 6, 2014, when he had stopped a motorist on the northbound Tri-State shoulder near Elmhurst. The trooper broke his shoulder blade, vertebrae, arm, leg, ankle, ribs and knees, among other injuries. He was confined to a wheelchair for three months, then crutches for five more months.

“I didn’t do everything I should have done to help myself,” Thurow added. “I pray for you every day.”

Law enforcement records show that the 2014 incident was Thurow’s third drunken driving crash in nine months. Two days before striking Cokins, Thurow was released on probation for a May DUI arrest in Brookfield.

After striking Cokins, Thurow continued driving north on I-294, hitting a retaining wall. That failed to stop her. Two miles farther along the interstate, she struck an SUV with seven occupants, including a 3-year-old boy. The SUV flipped, but none of the injuries to those inside was critical.

Thurow’s car struck a median, spun 180 degrees and came to a rest facing south. Cokins was in critical condition, and prosecutors were told he was not expected to walk again.

Over the next 14 months, he underwent surgeries and grueling physical therapy. He has about 55 screws and nine metal plates in bones.

After several setbacks, Cokins returned to work in December 2015, assigned to investigations. In June, he returned to patrolling the same stretch of interstate where he was hit.

Trooper Cokins’ recovery is an amazing story.  Thurow’s prison sentence can’t get him back to where he was before this incident. But hopefully sharing this story will prevent future incidents like this from happening again.

 

AAIM releases 2015 Illinois DUI arrest stats

Every year, the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists releases statistics regarding DUI arrests.  Here are some of the numbers:

Top Arresting Departments:

Illinois State Police (statewide): 6,584

Chicago Police:  3,315

Top Cook Suburb:  Cicero:  300 (runner-up Berwyn:  225)

Top DuPage Suburb:  Carol Stream: 464 (runner-up Naperville:  369)

The whole list can be found here:  https://www.aaim1.org/stats_dui.asp

They also produce a list of the “Top Cops” who made the most DUI arrests, which can be found here:  https://www.aaim1.org/stats_topcops.asp  It is interesting to me that the top 5 cops all are stationed in the Chicago area, and they make up 8 of the top 10.  Overall, there were nine Chicago cops who made 100 or more DUI arrests in 2015, as well as another 2 Illinois State Police Officers patrolling the Chicago highways.  Three officers had more than 225 arrests, and one had 310!  Considering that the average officer works less than 250 days of the year, that is at least one DUI arrest per shift.

State that leads nation in wrongful convictions passes bill to make them more plentiful

In a rational world, when a state leads the nation in wrongful convictions, and has spent over 150 million dollars in payouts for those wrongfully convicted, it should be working on improving its forensic science, not trying to cover it up.

But then again, this is Illinois.

From ABC News:

Nine months after the I-Team uncovered a pattern of forensic failures in the Illinois state crime lab, the general assembly has passed a new law that could keep such information from the public.

The I-Team found a culture of law and disorder at Illinois state police crime labs last fall. We obtained internal audits and reports that revealed blood and urine testing errors and bad testing methods that jeopardized criminal cases. Now, legislation headed to Governor Rauner would allow state police officials to make up their own rules and keep such information from defendants and the public.

 “It’s a sheep in wolves clothing,” said defense attorney Don Ramsell.

Wheaton attorney Don Ramsell regularly subpoenas test results and data from here at the Illinois state crime lab when he defends motorists charged with drunken driving.

Under a new law passed by the Illinois House yesterday, Ramsell says state police will be able to withhold some of the most crucial crime lab information. Including, he says, the kinds of mistakes uncovered by the I-Team last year. These mistakes included: test samples switched, names that didn’t match, wrongly run vials of evidence, general inaccuracies, incorrect methods and destruction of evidence.

“It’s an attempt by the Illinois state police crime lab to try to limit the amount of information they have to turn over to the defense. This way they can hide whatever mistakes errors or method problems that you and the I-Team discovered last year,” said Ramsell.

The forensic failures discovered by the I-Team last fall appeared to put criminal cases in jeopardy and raised the possibility that charges and convictions would have to be thrown out due to faulty lab tests.

But the legislation headed to the governor’s desk would allow state crime lab officials to insulate themselves from future failures.

Ramsell says they will do this by keeping the information under wraps.

“The purpose of the law is to prevent the defense attorneys from getting any of the information we have been able to get in the past. They are going to try to set up rules so the mistakes and errors don’t become the types of information they have to turn over any more,” said Ramsell.

Ramsell says this would be the first law in the u.s. Allowing a police crime lab to decide what information to provide to defendants and attorneys. The Illinois state police did not respond to our questions about their role in getting the legislation passed, but following our original reporting the state police director defended crime lab testing methods.

No word on Wednesday on how Gov. Rauner looks at this, but the bill will be on his desk.

For more information on this legislation, click here.

 

Illinois State Trooper pleads guilty to DUI while on Duty

From the Chicago Tribune:

An Illinois State Police trooper who authorities said was intoxicated when he responded to a crash on Interstate 88 last year pleaded guilty Monday to driving under the influence, according to Kane County prosecutors.

Trooper Paul Zurn, 34, agreed to a sentence of one year of court supervision in exchange for a guilty plea to misdemeanor DUI, according to a news release from the Kane County state’s attorney’s office. Judge Robert Morrow accepted the plea.

According to prosecutors, Zurn responded to a minor traffic crash on Aug. 22, 2015, on I-88 near Farnsworth Avenue in Aurora. At the scene, Zurn “was observed by other troopers to be unsteady on his feet, and a bottle containing alcoholic liquor was found in his squad car,” according to the news release.

Zurn refused to submit to a portable breath test and standardized field sobriety tests and also refused to submit to a Breathalyzer test, according to the release. As a result, his driver’s license was suspended for one year by the Illinois Secretary of State.

According to Illinois law, first-time misdemeanor DUI offenders are eligible for supervision, the release said. In addition to the supervision sentence, Zurn must undergo alcohol treatment, pay $2,185 in costs and fines and attend a victim impact panel.

Information about Zurn’s job status was not immediately available.

Two things to note:  1) he refused all tests (so why shouldn’t you do the exact same thing if you end up in the same situation); and 2) even without doing the tests, and without getting his license suspension rescinded which would allow him to work, he plead guilty. Here is a State Trooper, on duty, and there are no field tests or blood alcohol level, yet he still plead guilty.  Since I have not seen the arrest reports, videos or reviewed any of the evidence, I am not in a position to evaluate his case.  But this goes to show that there is no such thing as a slam-dunk case.

Driver charged with DUI after crashing into State Trooper’s Squad Car

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From CBS 2 news:

A 28-year-old woman has been charged with driving under the influence after she crashed into the back of an Illinois State Police trooper’s vehicle who was in the middle of a traffic stop early Sunday on the Kennedy Expressway near Bucktown on the North Side.

Kendra Hernandez, of the 1000 block of Argyle Street in Bensenville, was charged with aggravated driving while under the influence, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, improper lane usage and driving with a suspended license, according to Illinois State Police.

The crash happened shortly after 2 a.m. in the outbound lanes of Interstate 90/94 near Damen, sending the trooper’s car into the back of the vehicle he had originally pulled over, state police said.

The trooper was not in his car when it was rear-ended and was not hurt, police said.

Hernandez was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center with injuries that weren’t considered life-threatening, police said.