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Accountability and cell phones

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Emergency Services Vehicles McHenry County, Illinois

Accountability and cell phones

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
September 25, 2012

The following comment was received from a law-enforcement officer. It was posted as a comment to a recent article about the cell phone policy at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

This comment is too important to be missed, and so I am printing it within this article.

"In my bureau, the safety of employees as well as the public is taken so seriously that our policy states that not only are we not to use any cell phones when operating an agency vehicle while on duty, but we risk losing our job if caught doing so off duty.

"There is a loose provision to commissioned law enforcement officers that they may use their cell phones while in an emergency situation, but that is seriously frowned upon as well. Responding to any incident (whether a law enforcement incident, MVA or medical emergency) is not the best time to multi-task.

"Is it followed? You bet it is- after the first few employees were disciplined, most everyone fell right in line.

"The problem with MCSO (and this is across the board- not just as it applies to phones and vehicles) lies in accountability. If there are no consequences, what's the point of following the rules? And if leadership chooses not to hold anyone accountable, why even make the rules in the first place?"

Many thanks to that reader who sent the comment.

I've often said that cops should be the first to obey the laws, not the last. And that goes for employers' rules, too.

Where does it start? Does Sheriff Nygren use his cell phone while driving? Does Undersheriff Zinke? Does Cmdr. Miller? Does EEO officer Leist?

And, if they do, why shouldn't every deputy thumb his nose at the cell phone rule that prohibits use while operating a MCSD vehicle?

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