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Safety Checks – What a Waste!

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Safety Checks – What a Waste!

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
June 9, 2007

This afternoon I was driving south on Route 31 from McHenry toward Crystal Lake in a 55MPH zone, when traffic slowed for no apparent reason. Turns out there was a reason! A McHenry County Sheriff’s Dept. squad car with its emergency lights flashing was parked on the southbound shoulder, and two Sheriff’s Dept. cars (one marked, one unmarked) were parked on the northbound shoulder with emergency lights flashing.

“OK, where’s the wreck? Where is the car of the person they stopped for a felony arrest?”

Deputies were standing on the southbound shoulder, enjoying the sun and the beautiful weather on a nice Saturday afternoon. Maybe they were conducting safety checks – those time- and taxpayer dollar-wasting interruptions so popular these days.

How do you possibly check for seatbelts when traffic is passing in both directions at 45-55MPH??? If they spotted someone unbelted, what were they going to do? Dash to their cars and give chase? Endangering everyone else in their attempt to enforce the law and write a $75 ticket?

If the Sheriff is going to waste the time of his deputies by assigning them to such dangerous duty (more important than stopping speeders, illegal passers, tailgaters), why doesn’t he direct them to hang out at stop signs and where there is adequate space to direct a driver off the road?

Of course, it may not cost “us” right here in McHenry County, because it seems to me I have heard of grants that pay for the time of the deputies. So, are they out there on over-time pay, sucking up the State dollars from the public trough?

Perhaps I’ll file a Freedom of Information Act request and ask for the hours expended, pay for the deputies who were there, expense of the County’s patrol cars, and how many dollars did the Sheriff’s Department receive for that assignment. Oh, yes, and the number of tickets written, if any. They certainly weren't doing any business as I passed.

I’ll promise you this. When I am Sheriff of McHenry County, there will be NO “safety checks”, which really aren’t safety checks at all. A safety check would be driver’s license, insurance, registration, lights, horn, wipers, turn signals, brakes, front AND rear license plates, NO tinted lens covers over either plate, and no illegal darkened front windows. How’s THAT for a “safety check”?

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