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Protect & Serve becomes Stuck & Wait

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Protect & Serve becomes Stuck & Wait

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
February 3, 2011

There was a great P.R. piece in the Northwest Herald this morning under the headline "Sheriff has help rescuing motorists." When I read the article, I thought how great it was for the top dog at the sheriff's department to venture out into the blizzard and "commandeer" a truck and its driver, Dan Bitton.

In my mind I pictured the sheriff pounding on the driver's window and pressing Bitton into service of the County.

And then I learned that Bitton is a long-time friend of the sheriff. Suddenly, all the flowery language in the article turned into that stuff that is left in the field after the cattle are herded into pens.

According to reporter Joe Bustos, "Bitton, of Johnsburg, complimented Nygren for sticking it out with his staff in the snow and wind. Nygren directed traffic as ice fell from his face, Bitton said."

Joe, you got suckered. They couldn't see another car until they were inches from it?

Where was the sheriff's $75,000 Chevy Tahoe with the heated leather seats all this time? Did he give it to a deputy to run calls? Or was it parked in the garage at the sheriff's department?

How many four-wheel-drive vehicles are assigned to patrol staff? 12? 15? 18? Were there really only three on use? Where were the rest? Parked in garages or driveways of the take-home-car deputies? Why weren't these vehicles ordered into Woodstock and made available to on-duty deputies?

And where were the snowmobiles owned by the sheriff's department? Were they in use? Or were there parked safely in the trailer at the sheriff's garage on Russel Court?

How many deputies were stuck in their "regular" squads cars during this blizzard? And for how many hours? Not only were they at risk, stuck in snow on a County road, but they were not able to perform their duties or assist County residents!

Reporter Brett Rowland wrote, "... about half a dozen sheriff's deputies were stuck in their cars all over the county in spots including Marengo and Harvard. Many spent the night in their cars."

I hear that more than a few patrol deputies are mad, angry and disappointed. And well they should be. Of course, they aren't allowed to speak out without violating General Orders.

Sorry, deputies. Mail me your stories and your gripes. I'll publish them - without your names.

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