Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Open Letter from Zane Seipler

To the Deputies at the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department,

On July 28th, 2007 we were given a departmental questionnaire asking us to assess the climate of the department. (At this time my career was everything I wanted it to be. I was advancing rapidly and earning special assignments and duties. Yet, something was bothering me. Statistics were being pushed by our supervisors, plaques about “…owning the night” were being erected, less mature deputies were bragging about how arrest were easy and fun and a couple of them made negative comments about African-Americans and Latinos.) I filled out the questionnaire honestly. I wrote things about civil rights violations, racial profiling and poor supervision. I also wrote that people I consider sub-standard deputies were getting recognition for their statistics while superior deputies (the vast majority of you) were being marginalized.

Immediately I was called in to the office by a certain Captain. This Captain asked me what was going on and I told that I believe three or four deputies may be racially profiling in order to raise their stats. The Captain told me to give him names, I refused. I told the Captain that if he made a general statement at roll call condemning such behavior that would probably solve the problem.
I also stated that we should try to operate like more “progressive” departments and have some kind of “sensitivity” training every year instead of every decade. Again the Captain told me to give him names, I refused. He then gave me three names, I replied “ If you know this you don’t need me to give names.” The conversation continued and one year, dozens of memos, countless closed door meetings, several yelling sessions, several internal investigations, numerous secret supervisor phone calls, a trumped up warrant, dozens of threats of arrest, supervisory scare tactics used against my children and wife, outlandish rumors and pathetic pleas for my resignation, I was terminated. (Oh yes, four months of paid administrative leave at the tax payers expense.) Why did I endure all of this? Because it was the right thing to do.

I am not against you, the vast majority of you are outstanding, honorable deputies. Deputies that have been conditioned to accept the totalitarian atmosphere that is the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department. You know as well as I do if you’re not one of the “good ole boys” you’re on the “dark side”. (PBPA vs. FOP)

I decided long ago that I wouldn’t let bad things happen to good people if I could help it. I’ve seen a Lieutenant make grown men and women cry as he screamed at them in the confines of his cushy office (or the interrogation room of Huntley P.D.). I’ve seen experienced, hardworking, senior deputies get passed up for the K-9 unit for a deputy who specializes in arresting Hispanics and beating up elderly women. I have seen good deputies internally investigated by a couple of Lieutenants that should have lost their jobs long ago for the numerous General Order infractions they committed during the course of their careers. (Makes me wonder exactly what do these people have on each other.) I have seen fear. Fear, that if you were to speak out and voice your opinion or your concerns you will be treated like I was. Believe me when I tell you the supervisors know that this is the case. They bank on it. Fear is what you work under, it is how you are controlled.

You don’t need to fear me. Some of you have secrets and I have kept those. No amount of fear would ever make me turn on good deputies. But the deputies that aren’t so good, who are taking the short cuts to make arrests, who are using unnecessary force to subdue citizens, who are writing a reports about altercations in groups so that the reports all sound alike, you should worry. The rest should keep doing the job as you have always done it, honorably.

I have chosen this fight and I will see it through. So when you look at that giant Stat Board in roll call and you begin to see a certain three or four deputies arrest numbers dropping, remember. When those same deputies are now handling their service calls instead of transporting a Hispanic driver to the jail every forty five minutes, remember. When you are no longer going to a domestic altercation alone because everyone is in their area and not at the jail or waiting for a tow, remember. When you’re no longer writing an obscene number of reports a night because certain deputies are writing their own reports, remember. When you sit in roll call and listen to a afternoon shift Sergeant and Lieutenant tell you how evil I am or how racist I am, remember. (These guys were all under federal investigation long before I was under McHenry County Sheriff’s Department investigation.) When they formulate new daily evaluation standards to make you more “aggressive”, remember. And when they threaten to terminate you when you don’t conform, remember, I have chosen to fight for you also.

Don’t let the changes and unwanted scrutiny that is bound to arise because of this change the way you do your job. If you’ve never done anything that deserves scrutiny, you’ll be just fine.

Zane Seipler

P.S. I plan on winning the arbitration, so I’ll see you soon.

1 comment:

Smith said...


Thank you for fighting the good fight, and for having the courage to stand up against what is illegal, racial profiling. I am sure you have no problem at night before you go to bed, when you look yourself in the mirror. My question is to those few individuals who know that what they are doing is wrong, illegal. How can they go home at night, and look at their kids or family in the face?

I hope this federal law suit sends out a message to the other Police departments in our county. I know that some law enforment officers read this blog, and not one has had the courage to even comment on this issue when they know is happening.