Thursday, October 30, 2014

C.L. PD denies FOIA request for AR-15 theft

In a grand statement of stone-walling, the Crystal Lake Police Department has denied this week's request for the theft report of an AR-15 rifle from a vehicle believed to be owned by, or in control of, a McHenry County Sheriff's Department corrections officer.

And they didn't just deny part of the report, they denied all of it.

I had asked the Crystal Lake Police Department for certain information about the theft; in particular, was the rifle the property of the corrections officer (or did it possibly belong to someone else or even to the McHenry County Sheriff's Department?) Also, I asked if the rifle was capable of being fired in the fully-automatic mode. And how many magazines were stolen? And were they loaded? And what equipment, if any, such as a bulletproof vest or helmet, was stolen?

Why did I ask about the fully-automatic mode? If the rifle happened to be the property of MCSO, it could have been modified. And if it was the property of MCSO, then you can bet another FOIA request would be generated to MCSO.

Why did the Crystal Lake Police deny my FOIA request?

Well, they think that confirming the theft of an AR-15 might interfere with a pending or contemplated law enforcement proceeding.

Or that it might "unavoidably" (my quotation marks) disclose the identity of a confidential source or identity of persons who file complaints.

Since when is the victim of a theft protected?

And disclosure might obstruct or interfere with an active or ongoing criminal investigation.

Can you believe that nonsense?

Could it be that the Crystal Lake Police Department has not heard of redacting very limited information of the type that concerns them? Then they could provide the report, such as date, time, location of theft, and the basic information collected by the investigating officer(s). What's the big secret about a rifle being stolen from a convertible, after the top was sliced - if that is what happened?

And exactly what is wrong with releasing the name of the owner of the vehicle that was broken into?

Unless somebody is playing the hokey-pokey...

Let's see ... the address of the Public Access Bureau at the Office of the Illinois Attorney General is ...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Election Day - one week away

For the first time in recent voting history in McHenry County, voters are going to have a real chance to have a say-so in the race for Sheriff.

The incumbent is out. His hand-picked successor is out.

The past 17 years have shown voters and residents of McHenry County what happens when you have a "cop" in charge of the Sheriff's Department. It is virtually impossible to remove a sheriff from this elected office. Nygren had the dubious title of Cell Phone Sheriff, because of the amount of time he spent away from his office.

If you don't know by now whether you are going to vote for Jim Harrison or Bill Prim, now is the time to decide. Do not decide by default. Do not decide that the choice is too complicated.

Spend time on the websites of each. Read what has been printed in the Northwest Herald and in The Woodstock Independent (Oct. 22-28 edition, Page 15). Go and meet each. Call them.

Why wouldn't Bill Prim debate Jim Harrison? Voters would have benefited from being able to sit in front of them and hear their own words. And it would have been even better to have a debate, not a watered-down, milk-toast "forum".

Wouldn't it have been great to hear them go after each other in public in a no-holds-barred debate? Had there been a real debate, who would have come out on top?

What if McHenry County had a sheriff like Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio or Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr.?

Here's a great quote from Sheriff Clarke's official website: "There is nothing so foolish as to do more efficiently something that should no longer be done."

Which candidate in the race for McHenry County Sheriff will do that?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Must Sheriff have public confidence?

Cal Skinner published a l-o-n-g outpouring by Mickey Schuch about the importance of getting out to vote. Mickey is a Woodstock businessman, a high-quality craftsman (visit his website), firearms aficionado, president of the McHenry County Right to Carry Association and strong supporter of Sheriff's candidate Bill Prim.

Mickey also had a little run-in with the Crystal Lake Police Department in November, 2000, which resulted in felony charges that were bargained down to misdemeanor pleas.

One commentor to Cal's article ("butseriouslynow" on 10/25/14 at 12:06pm) wrote, in part, "Who I feel for are the great local police officers who arrested Schuch and his gang having him paraded around in front of them by the guy who may very well be our next Sheriff in the weeks after local deputies were shot."

I believe he is referring to the recent Chiefs of Police luncheon, when retired police officer Bill Prim invited Mickey Schuch to accompany him, as he has to numerous other political and civic gathering in the run-up to the election on November 4.

What message was Bill Prim clearly sending to the police chiefs (and officers) of McHenry County by his thoughtless invitation?

What does it mean for the sheriff of a county to instill and hold the confidence of the public he serves?

This question assumes that the sheriff actually cares about that confidence, once he is in office.

Now we come to the election of November 2014. On candidate Jim Harrison's website is a tab labeled Public Confidence. I recommend that you read the writings below that tab. Here is a paragraph close to the end of it.

Public Office = Public Confidence
"The Sheriff must instill public confidence in the Sheriff’s Office from the first day in office until the last. The Sheriff must refrain from conduct that would bring disrepute on the Sheriff’s Office or that would damage public confidence. The Sheriff must be honest and trustworthy so that public confidence can deepen and grow. The Sheriff must work every day to demonstrate the highest level of integrity, leadership, and independence as an elected public official. With your help, I will be that Sheriff."

As the head of the County's law-enforcement agency, the sheriff must use good judgment in every case.
Was that decision one of good judgment?

Chicago Tribune - Harrison for Sheriff!

The Chicago Tribune has announced its endorsement of Jim Harrison for McHenry County Sheriff. Click on the link to read the full endorsement.

The important part follows.

McHenry County
Sheriff: "... Harrison, a former McHenry County sheriff's deputy, has an impressive legal resume. He has also given great thought to how to run an office that is efficient and free of politics — in short, an office that focuses solely on crime and responding to citizens. After all the battling in law enforcement circles in McHenry, Harrison would be a welcome change and he is endorsed."

Election Day is coming up one week from Tuesday.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Have dog; will ride

Do you ride a motorcycle or know someone who does? How about someone with a motorcycle and a sidecar? And a dog?

A new documentary has just been released, titled Sit Stay Ride: the Story of America's Sidecar Dogs. The project had been publicized on Kickstarter, and it exceeded its fundraising goal. The result is fantastic.

Eric Ristau and Geneva Liimatta, of Missoula, Montana, traveled from coast-to-coast, interviewing and photographing people and dogs with their motorcycles and sidecars.

I encourage you to purchase this $18.50 DVD from  Watch the trailer on the website. You'll enjoy it yourself, and it will make a wonderful holiday gift.

(No, I don't get any royalties...)

Michael Romano case dragging in McHenry County court

Remember the name Michael Romano from this blog back in January and February. No, you probably don't. Romano had been arrested on January 14 in Las Vegas, on a McHenry County warrant charging him with the 2006 murder of his parents. In my article on January 29 I wondered aloud whether McHenry County was becoming the new Guantanamo.

Romano waived extradition and could have been quickly picked up and returned to McHenry County. Instead, he was kept in jail in Las Vegas until William J. Ross was ready to go. Ross is also now accused of murder. Both men were transported on a prisoner bus, with the cross-country journey beginning on about February 3 and arriving in Woodstock on February 13.

What did it cost McHenry County to transport two men by prisoner bus for the 1,730 miles from Las Vegas to Woodstock. $1.00/mile?

Now comes the part of the story with which many are familiar. Court delays. Romano's case  (14CF000022) has had 2014 court dates, as follows:

Feb. 13 Rights
Feb. 18 Arraignment
Mar. 13, Apr. 29, June 4, July 25, Sept. 4, Sept. 25, Oct. 23. Continued - Defendant's request. Romano is represented by the McHenry County Public Defender's Office.

A person with knowledge of this case has provided some information to me, including that Romano may have been able to meet with his public defender-attorney only once to discuss his case. On court dates they would discuss only procedural issues with him and nothing germain to his actual case.

In April Romano signed a release, authorizing the Public Defender to contact the attorney whom Romano had used in 2006. Only recently did they do so. That information is crucial to his defense, but he is having a hard time conferring with his appointed attorney.

Romano apparently cannot even learn the Coroner's information about the time of death of his parents, for which he may have a verifiable alibi. 
Supposedly, the prioner van was even involved in a crash on an icy roadway, and Romano was injured in the crash.

Is this case one of "lock him up and throw away the key"? How many others are like it?

Does the McHenry County Jail maintain a spreadsheet showing the number of days each inmate has been incarcerated? 

Why do the judges tolerate excuse after excuse from defense attorneys, whether public or private, and grant Continuances merely upon request and without explanation or accountability?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ex-sheriff charged

The former sheriff of Lancaster County, South Carolina has been charged with "breach of trust with fraudulent intent," after state troopers found a 40 cal. Glock handgun and a laptop left over from his Mr. Sheriff days, which ended in 2008. It seems he should have turned in that equipment when he left office.

When the keys to the office at 2200 N. Seminary are turned over on December 1, 2014, how much equipment will be unaccounted for? Any?

Will the new sheriff be smart enough to order an inventory of all MCSO equipment? Vehicles, trailers, snowmobiles, firearms, badges, patches, uniforms, laptops, desktops, printers, etc., etc., etc.? Don't forget snowmobiles.

The current administration ought to know where each and every item is. Each piece of equipment should be on a list and either have a name in the issued column or be on the shelf at the office.

Want to bet on that?

Nygren and Zinke ought to make that inventory before November 30. Will they? Nygren's name has been on the door for about 17 years. That's a lot of time for equipment to "grow legs" and take a walk. How much of it did?