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Is it grand-standing to ticket yourself?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Is it grand-standing to ticket yourself?

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
June 17, 2013

A commenter to a recent article expressed that a cop who writes himself a ticket is "grand-standing". Is he?

Years ago I read a story about Reuben Greenberg. While he was a rookie patrolman, he got into an accident on the way to a call. It was his fault, so he wrote himself a ticket. That's integrity. Greenberg rose to Chief of Police in Charleston, S.C. and is the author of Let's Take Back Our Streets.

How often do cops get into accidents and get tickets? Not very often. The tickets, I mean. There have been numerous accidents in Woodstock and in McHenry County that have been the fault of the officer/deputy-driver, and no tickets were issued. Want a list?

But I wasn't there when Greenberg wrote himself that ticket. Ever since I heard the story, though, I have thought highly of him.

And then there is Richard Knoebel, Police Chief in 2006 of the Kewaskum (Wisc.) Police Department. He realized he had passed a stopped school bus, and he wrote himself a $235 ticket. And paid it. Grand-standing? I don't think so.

And then there is Lt. Don Carlson of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. Don ran off the road in Boone County one night about ten days ago. Don used to work for the Boone County Sheriff's Department. The crash report says that Don told the deputy that he was talking on his telephone. He ran off the county road on the left side, traveled in a ditch for 100 yards and hit a tree - hard. The deputy identified "speed" as a contributing factor in the crash.

The Boone County deputy and his supervisor did not ticket Carlson. Should Carlson have written himself a ticket? Maybe while he was in his hospital room or at home recuperating?

Actually, the deputy or his supervisor should have written the ticket. It had to be clear to them that a serious driver error had occurred.

A ticket isn't a terrible thing. Drivers get over it. But giving a fellow law-enforcement officer a "bye" in that situation was wrong.

Sheriff Duane Wirth ought to be all over Deputy Prine, who wrote the crash report, and Sgt. Reid, his supervisor. Did friendship with Carlson play a role? Wirth announced last week that he will not run for re-election in 2014. Wirth told the Rockford Register Star that two (unnamed) persons have expressed interest in running for Boone County Sheriff.

Sheriff Wirth ought to order the blood lab result from the hospital. If it was 0.00% BAC, that protects Carlson, Prine and Reid from any allegations of favoritism. OSF St. Anthony's Hospital must have a record of the BAC. Why didn't the Boone County SO request it?

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