Thursday, August 1, 2013

River Road alert - tickets, tickets, tickets

If you are driving near River Road and Miller Road (just outside McHenry) this (Thursday) morning, be sure not to be talking on your cell phone in the Work Zone.

A special detail of McHenry County Sheriff's deputies is attending a ticketing convention there. They'll be writing tickets (read: drumming up court fines and costs). Deputies are being pulled off regular patrol assignments to work this detail.

MCSD used to have a traffic unit that had the primary responsibility for enforcing traffic laws by writing tickets. Shortly after the double-fatal accident on July 1, 2012, just outside Woodstock, that unit went down the drain.

To my knowledge, there has been no rash of crashes or injuries in Work Zones on County roads recently.

As many as six deputies are on Miller Rd. between Green St. and River Road. You probably won't recognize them because of their casual dress. Compound that with the reflectorized vests that hide any badge or t-shirt emblem and that cover up their weapons. You would think that deputies on traffic enforcement would be wearing regular MCSD uniforms to identify themselves clearly and quickly to any driver signaled to stop. They also ought to be wearing their "100 lbs." of gear, including their bullet-resistant vests (not that any driver in McHenry County would be so upset at the prospect of a $165 ticket that she might start shooting).

Would you stop for a man with a gun in the roadway wearing a blue t-shirt? Or for what looked like a construction worker (orange vest, red hard hat) in the roadway? Or would you just hold up the roof of your car with your middle finger (the Zinke wave) and drive on?

Who all gets a piece of the pie, when a driver gets a $165 (or is it $375) ticket? There is a long list of offices and groups that share in the fines and court costs. Does the local jurisdiction (for example, it is unincorporated McHenry County (Nunda Township there) gain financially for all the tickets written this morning? If they do, by how much?

Pulling regular deputies off their regular assignments to drum up revenues for a township means the rest of the residents in the County get reduced protection and slower response times.

If a driver chooses to fight the ticket, how many deputies will have to show up in court? Does the deputy who wrote the ticket (and didn't observe any cell phone usage violation) have to appear for trial? Does the spotter (who didn't write the ticket) have to appear? If the driver loses in court, how much (in total court costs plus the fine) will a ticket cost him?

Who made this decision that this is such a high priority to assign so many deputies there and to thin out protection to the rest of the county? Sheriff Nygren? Undersheriff Zinke? What motivated him to do this? How many tickets will be written today?

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