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Emailing at 100+MPH?

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Emailing at 100+MPH?

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
July 18, 2009

Illinois State Trooper Matt Mitchell was reportedly emailing his girlfriend and talking to her on his cell phone at more than 100MPH just before he lost control of his patrol car, according to a newspaper article today that referred to recently released documents in a federal lawsuit connected with the November 2007 accident near Belleville, Illinois.

Mitchell's patrol car crossed the median on I-64 and struck one car, then crashed into a second car, killing its two occupants. I recall a previous report that his speed may have been as high as 126MPH.

Mitchell survived and faces reckless homicide and reckless driving charges.

This cellular telephone use while on duty reminded me of a statement in one of the police reports published last week by the Northwest Herald in the Pavlin case. At some time after Deputies Jones and Bruketta arrived at the Pavlin residence, Deputy Jones stepped outside the residence to call Sgt. Pyle on his cellular phone and inform him of what was happening. This would have left Deputy Bruketta alone with the handcuffed son of the senior Pavlins in the house.

To what extent in law enforcement work do departmental rules allow communications between officers to be made off the police radio, where the conversations would be recorded? Is there, or should there be, a requirement that cellular phones will not be used for Departmental business?

When a call is going South, communications need to be on the air, so that all officers, especially those in the vicinity, know what is happening. Dispatchers and all supervisors can then also be aware of problems. Deputy Jones' report doesn't state how long he was out of the residence, and the Northwest Herald did not print any report of Sgt. Pyle.

Are there guidelines, procedures, rules, directives or General Orders at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department regarding use of cell phones while on duty?

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