Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Schlenkert Case - to be appealed?

Recently a reader offered a guess that Deputy Schlenkert's favorable decision in court will most likely be appealed by the McHenry County Merit Commission.

You mean that Deputy Schlenkert won't go back to work right away? The sheriff rolled the dice and came up short in court. Why not suck it up and put an experienced deputy back to work without further delay? He doesn't carry any grudges, does he?

Just exactly how does the Merit Commission function and whom does it represent? Isn't it like the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners in Woodstock, which is composed of three civilians appointed by the City Council? Citizens who are supposed to be impartial and independent of the Woodstock Police Department (and who, based on a February 2008 decision, really are independent)?

This reader wrote, "The Merit Commission is a rubber stamp for the Sheriff. They are puppets that would not dare question the Sheriff's desires." Is this true? If so, why even have such a commission?

The writer also called attention to the physical appearance of different personnel at the sheriff's department and questioned whether any of the command personnel could pass reasonable fitness standards for deputies in the field.

Recently an officer in a neighboring community died on duty, apparently from over-exertion. He had chased a suspect and grappled with him. As I recall, the cause of his death was a heart attack. From the head photo in the newspaper the officer appeared to be somewhat "stout."

I recall the physique of the Ohio sheriff who spoke at MCC several months ago. He was slender and appeared to be in excellent physical health.

Chief Webster sends his firefighters and paramedics to the Woodstock Rec Center to work out; hopefully they will avoid over-exerting themselves when fighting a fire or carrying a heavy patient.

Illinois has no physical fitness standards for deputies after they are hired. As I recall from Judge McIntyre's ruling in the Schlenkert case, neither does the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

Perhaps this is a requirement that we should have here in McHenry County (and in Woodstock).

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