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Off-duty use of take-home squad cars

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois Emergency Services Vehicles

Off-duty use of take-home squad cars

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
April 30, 2009

Several law enforcement agencies, including the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, allow officers (deputies) to take their squad cars home. And the officers can drive them around, when they are not on duty.

Now there must be a good reason to provide a squad car for an officer to drive instead of his personal vehicle. Departments have rules about their use. Often these rules include

1. officer must be available to respond to duty;
2. officer's firearm must be with him (so he doesn't have to go home first to get it);
3. officer must not consume alcoholic beverages before or while driving the squad car;
4. officer should not park in front of a liquor store to go shopping;
5. no passengers are allowed (can't drive your kids to school, pick up your wife after work, take your girlfriend to lunch)

And I'm sure there must be more rules.

And one of the rules is probably "Don't make any traffic stops while you are off-duty (unless, perhaps, it is a case of a really serious traffic violation, like DUI, street racing, etc.)" And, if you do make such a stop, radio it in immediately.

And don't scare any citizens.

How does the public find out, if an officer or deputy is making unauthorized traffic stops? Well, it doesn't. Unless you read it here.

A McHenry County Sheriff's deputy is being investigated for making just such stops. In one case, a woman driver was scared after being stopped. The deputy was reportedly not in uniform, but he stopped her while driving his squad car.

The rest of the story? I'm working on getting the details now.

Do you know anyone who has been stopped by an off-duty deputy or officer who was driving a squad car (marked or unmarked)?

Should departments really provide take-home cars? What are the statistics showing a genuine need for off-duty officers to respond? Has it ever happened?

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