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Dangerous Decision by Sheriff Prim?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government McHenry County, Illinois Emergency Services Vehicles

Dangerous Decision by Sheriff Prim?

Gus Philpott, The Woodstock Advocate
25 December 2017

Has McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim made a dangerous decision regarding the safety of drivers and pedestrians in McHenry County, as well as that of deputies?

Rooftop emergency lights have been replaced on some squad cars with inside, behind-the-windshield emergency lights. Taking them off the roof of the squad car lowers them and reduces their visibility. While a driver immediately in front of a squad car won't miss the lights in his rearview mirror, other drivers may not see them quickly enough, especially at intersections.

On Thursday, Dec. 7*, a female deputy was involved in a crash. The deputy and others were conveyed to Centegra Hospital-McHenry by ambulances. Was the squad car one of those with the "new" emergency-light configuration?

And just a few months ago two deputies were involved in crashes while responding to the same call. One was a supervisor. Did either squad car have the new, inside lights? As I recall, one of the crashes was at Hwy. 47 & McHenry Ave., and the other was at Hwy. 14 and Lake Ave. Were the deputy drivers at fault in one or both of those accidents? Were they cited? (OK, you can stop laughing now.)

What do deputies think about the new deal? Do they like it? Do the squad cars now look "cooler" with no emergency lights on the roof? Can deputies follow a driver without being immediately identified as being in a squad car? Most deputies don't work traffic, where hidden emergency lights might be a benefit.

Most deputies respond to calls and use emergency lights to pass slower traffic and pass legally through red lights and stop signs. State law allows that, but the burden is on the deputy to do so in a manner that avoids crashes.

There is a time and place for squad cars without rooftop lights. Drivers of those cars should receive special and advanced training regarding reduced visibility.

This past week I passed three marked squad cars on a two-lane road. The officers were parked at 1/4-mile intervals with their overheads on. The lights on those particular cars, belonging to Forest Acres (S.C.) PD, were so bright that it was almost impossible to see around them. This caused traffic in both directions to slow almost to a crawl. There was no doubt about safety (unless, of course, an officer had stepped into the path of a passing vehicle, not realizing that a passing driver would not see him in time).

I invite MCSO deputies to email me at gus@woodstockadvocate.com and let me know what you think of the new lights. Like them? Dislike them? Why? You can rest assured that your identity will not be revealed. Or post your comment below this article.

Readers may remember when former Sheriff Nygren tried to force me to reveal the names of all former and present (in 2010) employees of the Sheriff's Department who were feeding information to me, as part of Zane Seipler's lawsuit in Federal Court to get his job back. A subpoena was mailed to me, and I filed a Motion to Quash pro se. When I appeared in court, the judge asked me one or two questions and then turned on the sheriff's attorney, telling her that she was just on a "fishing expedition" (his words) and that the subpoena had nothing to do with Seipler's case. Sweeter words were never heard by me in a courtroom: "Mr. Philpott, you have won your Motion."

* The original article incorrectly reported that this crash happened on December 23. Clarification was added about the subpoena from Nygren's attorney, which I considered an attempt to bully me.

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