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Cop avoids ticket through novel form

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois Emergency Services Vehicles

Cop avoids ticket through novel form

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
April 22, 2011

Failed to File Form

Recently a McCullom Lake PD officer caused a traffic crash in his community, when he whipped a U-turn to goafter a speeder and misjudged the following distance of the car right behind him.

The press release from the Sheriff's Department, signed by Sheriff Keith Nygren, didn't explain the crash thoroughly or even name the drivers involved or the investigating deputy.

On Thursday evening, April 14, Ofc. Michael Gneuchtel was driving east on McCullom Lake Road and operating his in-car radar. He spotted a westbound speeder and later told McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Knudson (#2002) that he looked in his rearview mirror, saw headlights behind him and assumed that the vehicle was a safe distance away. Then he "veered" right and started a U-turn. Yep, that's what the report says. Ofc. Gneuchtel veered to the right.

The following car, driven by Edward McCoy, 32, of Barrington, couldn't stop in time and nailed the squad car broadside, on its left side, pushing it several feet.

The crash report reads that McCoy stated that he did not want Gneuchtel to get a ticket because he was "only attempting to do his job." McCoy then signed a Failed to File Form, which Deputy Knudson provided. (Click once or twice on the image to enlarge it; then click on the Back button on your browser to return to the story.)

I wonder how McCoy knew to tell the deputy that he didn't want the cop to get a ticket. I can just hear it now. "Deputy, don't you have some kind of form I can sign, so that this good officer, who was just trying to do his job, won't get a ticket?"

How is the Sheriff's Department ever going to issue a ticket to any driver in the future? Will every defense attorney in the County now include a routine question when the deputy is on the stand during a trial, "Didn't you offer a Failed to File Form to the driver who says he was hit by my client? Oh, you didn't? Why not?"

One experienced traffic officer I spoke with told me he had never heard of using a Failed to File Form in a traffic accident. Never. How did it happen that it got used in this crash?

Why didn't Deputy Knudson write Ofc. Gneuchtel a ticket? Every - e-v-e-r-y - civilian driver causing a crash like this one gets a ticket. This goes way beyond "officer discretion."

There wouldn't have been any story here if the deputy had issued a ticket and if the sheriff's department had promptly released its announcement of the crash and named the drivers and deputy involved. The way it was handled, I knew there had to be a story. And there is. What is it going to take to get this kind of nonsense stopped around here?

I wonder if this was a CALEA-approved procedure in accident investigation...

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