Is Marengo Police Chief Les Kottke mind being clouded by old age? Marengo has one of the worst police departments in Northern Illinois. City Hall is no better. Marengo will sure be know as the breeding hole for bad cops and politicians.
Marengo cop back to work
MARENGO — Despite pending drunken driving charges, a police officer is back to work in Marengo, which some local police chiefs say they would not allow.
Courtney Miller appeared Tuesday in Winnebago County court on charges related to a February arrest in connection with driving under the influence of alcohol.
Miller, of Loves Park, was on paid leave from the Marengo Police Department after her arrest Feb. 6 in Rockford by Illinois State Police. She’s been back for a few weeks, Marengo Police Deputy Chief Joseph Hallman said.
Chief Les Kottke was unavailable for comment, and Carlos Arevalo, city attorney, declined to detail the decision to allow Miller to return.
“There was an investigation, the union was involved, and that culminated in the arrangement,” Arevalo said.
Winnebago County Judge Richard Lucas ruled in April that the suspension of Miller’s driving license was unfounded.
Arevalo said that finding left city officials to believe that the case won’t merit a conviction.
“It will play itself, and the case is going to go away, as simple as that,” he said.
Miller, 32, has pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol, driving under the influence of alcohol with blood-alcohol content of more than 0.08 percent, and speeding 15 mph to 20 mph faster than the posted limit.
Law enforcement driving under the influence of alcohol has been, in the recent past, an issue for agencies throughout the county.
In Marengo, Arevalo explained, the police department considers each discipline case individually.
Jim Pasco, director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, said the organization hadn’t issued recommendations specific to DUI arrests and deemed all discipline “negotiable.”
While other local departments agreed that cases vary, some, including the McHenry County sheriff’s department and those in Fox River Grove and Algonquin, said they would not put an officer on duty before the criminal case had concluded.
In Crystal Lake and West Dundee, disciplinary action would probably, but not always, be taken after a case’s conclusion.
Algonquin Police Chief Russell Laine said for officers whose Breathalyzer tests register above a certain level, the department would seek unpaid leave and dismissal.
Harvard Chief of Police Dan Kazy-Gary said in his department, a DUI charge wouldn’t always prompt paid leave until the conclusion of a court case.
Miller is expected to appear again in court July 20, when her attorney plans to argue that her arrest lacked probable cause.
The maximum penalties for a DUI conviction include losing one’s driver’s license for at least a year and up to $2,500, as well as land her behind bars for up to a year.
Arevalo wouldn’t say whether that would change her job status in Marengo.
Some area departments adhere more rigidly than others to court verdicts in deciding whether to keep an officer on staff.
In Algonquin, a DUI conviction would lead to termination, but acquittals could, too, Laine said.
McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren said he adhered to a similar principle.
“Chances are, they’re going to lose their job, which I guess is more than the average citizen pays,” he said. “Maybe we’re held to a higher standard. If you don’t like that, then don’t get in the business.”
Pasco pointed out that standard also can be unfair.
“Too often, there’s a presumption that police officers check their civil rights at the station door, and that’s just not true,” Pasco said.
Troy Wise had been a McHenry County assistant state’s attorney for about six months when he was fired Feb. 15, a day after his car collided with a utility pole and he was charged with DUI.
And Donald Anderson was working as a sheriff’s deputy on probationary terms when he crashed a squad car into a tree in January. Crystal Lake police responded to the scene and delayed filing DUI charges against Anderson until several days afterward after the Northwest Herald had filed a Freedom of Information request for related reports.
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