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Distracted driver (cop) rear-ends Suburban

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois Emergency Services Vehicles

Distracted driver (cop) rear-ends Suburban

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
February 8, 2011

This morning's paper reported a Friday afternoon crash involving a Prairie Grove PD squad car and a stopped vehicle on Route 176 at Bay View Beach Road. The crash was investigated by a deputy of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

Fortunately for Janet Lansing, of Crystal Lake, and her passenger, neither of them was injured. Prairie Grove PD Officer Paul McNamara was injured and transported to Centegra Hospital - McHenry. The crash investigator, who wasn't named in the newspaper article or in the Sheriff's Department media release, reported that "the Prairie Grove Officer ... was distracted by something inside the vehicle..."

Now there's a classic police investigation report-writing technique. What could there be inside a squad car that might so distract its driver that he rear-ends a stopped car on a State highway? A laptop computer keyboard, perhaps? A microphone for the police radio? A cell phone? Maybe a device for sending or receiving text messages? Coffee? Donuts?

Here's my take on it. If the driver hadn't been a police officer, the crash investigator would have named what device or action contributed to the crash. And if the officer hadn't been injured, he might not have gotten a ticket. If the P.D. officer was reading his BlackBerry, then he should have gotten a ticket for that! Did he have his seatbelt on? How did he get injured (but the occupants of the car he hit, didn't), if he had his seatbelt on and if the airbag deployed?

Maybe Ms. Lansing is lucky that she wasn't charged with backing into the patrol car. She should look carefully at the crash report and assure herself that she wasn't listed as Unit 1, which is the place reserved for the driver of the vehicle at fault.

About three years ago I learned of a string of crashes involving deputies who rear-ended vehicles while running hot, including one at the east end of Crystal Lake. Not one of the deputies was ticketed.

Okay, so any driver can have a bad day and get involved in a crash. We had one here in Woodstock in mid-January, when a police officer was trying to cross Route 47 on a red light. He nosed out in front of a southbound vehicle and got hit. Who got the ticket? Not the cop.

Ofc. McNamara was ticketed for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and has a date in McHenry County court for ---- hmmm, as of today at 6:15PM, there is no ticket information in the records of the Circuit Court Clerk.

Now, you tell me this - why is the Sheriff of McHenry County signing media releases on relatively minor crash reports? Those could be issued by the investigating officer, his sergeant, his lieutenant, his captain or the Undersheriff. Is this to prove to the residents of McHenry County that Nygren is in town? And why didn't that media release name the Prairie Grove PD officer? "Professional courtesy"?

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