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The June 8th crash and the MCSD Media Policy

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

The June 8th crash and the MCSD Media Policy

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
June 16, 2011

All day I've been thinking about this morning's Northwest Herald article about the June 8th crash near Wonder Lake involving two McHenry County Sheriff's Department patrol vehicles and thinking about how, or whether, MCSD complied with its own Public Information and Media Relations Policy. That Policy is General Order No. 1.1.14 and binds MCSD to a certain protocol.

The crash involving two patrol vehicles occurred on June 8th. The first newspaper article was June 16. The Public Information Officer didn't know beans about it (or did but was prevented from disclosing what she knew).

The Policy reads, in part:

"The McHenry County Sheriff's Office is committed to informing the community and news media of events within the public domain that are investigated by or involve the Department."

"Definition. Public Interest. Information that may be of interest to the general public regarding policy, procedures or events involving the Sheriff's Office ..."

"To operate effectively, law enforcement agencies must establish and maintain the support of the public they serve."

"Public information shall be released to the media as promptly as circumstances allow, without partiality and in as an objective manner as possible."

"The media have a legitimate responsibility to report newsworthy items in an accurate and timely manner, and the Sheriff's Office will cooperate, whenever possible."

"Release of information: The investigating deputy shall notify the PIO (Public Information Officer) or in his or her absence the shift supervisor as soon as practical and provide all pertinent information concerning the incident."

How'd the Department do this time? You be the judge.

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