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Clermont (Fla.) PD Chief not amused

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Clermont (Fla.) PD Chief not amused

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
July 22, 2012

They handle things a little differently down in Florida from the way they do in McHenry County.

See this story in the Orlando Sentinel about two Clermont, Florida police officers who got fired for a stupid prank. Included with the story is the in-car video.

Officer Christina Fowler spotted a speeding car (highway speeds of 80-90MPH) late one night and tried to pull the car over. The car didn't stop for her emergency lights. When the car finally did stop, the driver got out and started laughing. She had drawn her weapon and then realized that the driver was fellow police officer Marc Thompson.

Sgt. Mark Edwards was also in the car, along with a third officer. Police Chief Steve Graham fired Thompson and Edwards.

Officer Fowler did not ticket Thompson for any of the traffic violations. Who says that some cops don't favor other cops, even after a high-speed pursuit?

This brings to mind a "chase" in McHenry County a few years, when a car failed to stop for a deputy. The pursuing deputy reported over the radio that objects were being thrown from the car. When they finally stopped, there were three deputies in the car. Everybody at the sheriff's department knows about this and who was involved. Copies of the disciplinary actions were reproduced on McHenry County Blog.

How was that handled by the McHenry County Sheriff? Very quietly - as an administrative matter, out of the public view. The disciplinary action only reached the public's view as the result of a Federal civil right's lawsuit against the Sheriff and the Sheriff's Department.

Frankly, I think the public would be shocked and outraged, if the disciplinary records of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department were made public. The sheriff can mete out 30-day suspensions and never make them public, and he does. But he doesn't make them "more than 30 days", because then he have to take them to the Merit Commission, where they would become public record.

Compare that to the policy of, say, the Woodstock Police Department. If the Police Chief disciplines an officer for more than five days, he must take it to the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners (BOFPC). The BOFPC is a "public body", and its records are open to the public.

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