Monday, October 19, 2009

Detectives to go bald?

This morning's article about "Detectives to go bald for cop's sick daughter" in the Northwest Herald caught my attention, because a female deputy of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department has offered to shave her head to raise money for the sick 8-year-old daughter of a Lake in the Hills police officer.

I don't question the personal willingness of Sheriff's Department Detective Jennifer Garafol, but I do question the wisdom of such a choice and raise the question about whether it is appropriate for a peace officer in Illinois to shave her head.

Personally, I object to shaved heads of any police officer. To me the appearance smacks of being a bully, and departments should adopt policies that direct officers not to shave their heads to the scalp. Short hair? Okay. Clean-cut, professional appearance? Yes.

The article went on to mention that "donations" can be sent by check made payable to associations affiliated with officers/deputies of either the Lake in the Hills Police Department or the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

The public generally associates "donations" as being tax-deductible, and anyone who expects to take a tax deduction for his "donation" would be well-advised to check first with his accountant or a knowledgeable tax lawyer. These organizations may be not-for-profit (and are so listed with the Illinois Secretary of State), but they may not be "tax-exempt" under the Internal Revenue Code, which is what allows your donation to be tax-deductible.

Whether either association can legally distribute funds for an individual is highly questionable. Their charters (papers of incorporation) probably restrict use of funds to general purposes. Do they risk their not-for-profit status by collecting funds for and then distributing funds to an individual?

A good attitude is that you are just giving your money for the 8-year-old girl with the rare form of cancer. So give, and give generously. Don't expect or attempt to take any tax deduction.

By the way, don't try to look up "McHenry County Sheriff's Department Police Benevolent & Protective Association Lodge No. 192" on the Secretary of State's website for not-for-profit organizations. You won't find it.

You will find it under Police Benevolent & Protective Association of Illinois McHenry County Sheriff's Lodge #192. Kinda makes you wonder who dreamed up the format for its name, because a search for the name in State records first comes up dry, when you try to associate it with the McHenry County Sheriff's Department deputies.


Garafol said...

Gus I have never wrote to you or commented on your blog before. Although today some co-workers advised me to read your story. I apologize that somehow you were misinformed in reference to the fundraiser. The Lake in the Hills Police Benevolent Association is a 501c3 organization so any donations made to the Mogan family are tax deductible.

I'd like you to put aside for one moment your dislike towards the Sheriff's Department or any other law enforcement organization and attempt to think about how devastating it would be to know that a loved one, much less your own child, is dealing with what Rylie is going through. If I can help her by doing as little as putting a smile on her face for a few moments by shaving my head, that's a few moments of joy that she isn't thinking about the hardest fight of her life.

Thank you for writing about the fundraiser and I pray that you never have to deal with a loved one having cancer.

-Jen Garafol

Gus said...

Jen, many thanks for your comment and for writing.

Yes, let's separate the issues here. I fully support a community that aids anyone in need.

I don't "dislike" the sheriff's dept. or any other law enforcement agency. My dislike is of illegal or unethical activities of certain employees and that the activities seem to be condoned by a few, but important, people within those organizations.

I'll check on the IRS tax status of the LITH PBA tomorrow.