Saturday, November 1, 2008

Make My Day

The insights and reflections of McHenry County residents, some of whom write to me directly at P.O. Box 1222, Woodstock, IL 60098, indicate that they are, indeed, not helpless. They (you) might feel helpless at times, but you aren't!

Let's hope that the Illinois Open Meetings Act is not used just to wrap the fish bones on the way to the garbage can. Notice of Special Meetings of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission and the Woodstock Board of Fire and Police Commissioners is not just a nicety. It is required - by law. Notice is to be posted in public places (assuming you can find out where they are and read them in time) and on the government's website. (City of Woodstock - hint, hint)

Who's next? Rumor has it that some unlucky law enforcement officer's neck is being measured for the next length of rope from Ace Hardware.

Did this peace officer toe the line and stand for what is "right"?

I remember doing that in a class in Colorado one night. A lieutenant had set up a weapons check at the beginning of class. I was willing to allow the Department's armorer to examine my duty weapon, but I insisted on being present because the armorer had a reputation for destroying guns. I had just had the weapon repaired by an outside gunsmith. As far as I was concerned, he could look at it and he could dry-fire it, but he was not even to pick up a screwdriver to remove the grips.

The lieutenant insisted that I leave my weapon on the inspection table and enter the classroom. I didn't. I wrote the Sheriff a long letter, and within a week the policy changed. After that, weapons would be inspected only at the range and deputies were required to fire their weapons to confirm that they worked correctly.

What happens locally, when an officer (police officer or deputy) bucks the orders of a superior? What if the orders are wrong, either procedurally or at law?

What if you are told to do something that is clearly illegal, such as write a report that is not truthful, omit a significant fact (or more than one) which would completely change the fault, or refuse to carry out an order that is wrong?

Is that "subordination" and worthy of being keel-hauled and dragged before the Merit Board or the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners?

And what if, in the course of all this, information that is lawfully "protected" is released to the public? Employment information is supposed to be confidential. Health information of employees is supposed to be confidential. The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) law grants privacy. Why aren't violations prosecuted?

If you know of wrongs but cannot blow the whistle, even with the laws that are to protect the Whistleblower (and we all know how well they all work, don't we?), drop me an e-mail or send me a letter.


find the owners manual you fool said...

"Way back when..." dry firing of most weapons carried the potential to do harm to them. I'm surpised that you would allow that.

Gus said...

You raise a valid point. I read the manual for a small automatic recently, and it recommended against dry-firing.

I asked a proprietor at a range about this recently. I'll have to admit that I don't recall his technical answer but it had to do with where the firing pin might fall.

"Way back when" was a time when that department would not allow deputies to carry automatics. In fact, you couldn't even carry a .357. Everyone had to carry .38s, so that the ammo of any deputy would fit the weapon of any other deputy.

Since we were out in the wild West, I guess the bosses thought a surviving deputy in a shoot-out would crawl from one body to another, looking for spare ammo!

Regarding that particular armorer, I thought it better to hand him an empty weapon to dry-fire than to hand him a loaded weapon and watch while he pulled the trigger!

find the owners manual you fool said...

No, harm to the weapon.