Elgin Police Drone Grounded During Search By Local News Chopper

Chopper grounds Police Drone

FOX32/CBS2 News-Chopper grounded Police Drone during search.

August 29, 2017 – Elgin Police and Kane County Forest Preserve Police conducted a search of the hiking trails in Fitchie Forest Preserve on Elgin’s far-west side for what a caller believed may had been a disorientated elderly woman.  The perfect tool for this job was our police department’s new $12K DJI drone. EPD posted at about 10am on their Facebook page about the search and it apparently drew attention from one of the local news stations who then sent their helicopter over the area.

Once the chopper was heard, the drone-pilot for the police department had to ground the drone. I was perched at the entrance to the forest preserve hoping to catch a glimpse at our police department’s new toy but instead saw a squad pull up with the drone in the back.  It was then unloaded and put back in it’s case until the next time it may be called out. Did it crash too?

EPD Searching for possible disorientated woman

Just FYI for those of you with drones who live in the Elgin, Illinois  area, we have 2 hospitals in town and both of them have helipads.  Legally, you are required to notify airport management (or in this case, Hospital within 2nm)  before you fly your drone (FAA Reg107.43).  Even though hospital helipads are considered “private” heliports by the FAA, you are still required to make notification…….Even police & fire Departments.  (A call to both hospitals yesterday after this incident discovered that no such calls were received by anyone.).  I sought further clarification from the FAA directly today and all they would do is cite 107.43 but did confirm that in the case of “hospital” helipads especially, contact needs to be made.  It’s not hard, it only takes 2 minutes.  It needs to be done.
My friend Tammy Chapman at Flight For Life, an EMS Helicopter provider, has made this cause for informing drone-pilots of this information paramount.  It’s something I feel though, that needs to be handled more at the local-level as it varies greatly with the area you live.  It may cause a few more phone-calls to the hospital’s security office (as it should) but it’s better to be safe, than sorry.  Not doing so could cause a delay in response time in a life or death transport of a patient and I think it’s safe to say that if they’re being transported by air, it’s an urgent transport.  
Listed below are the phone numbers for Sherman Hospital and St. Joseph’s (respectively).  Ask the operator for the “Security office”.  (You might want to ask who you speak with and note the time of your call as well.)  I will compile a list of all hospital heliports in Illinois and Wisconsin later in the week.  Hospital heliports are NOT listed on an aviation sectional chart. To find them, you can look at SkyVector.com.  For our area you would enter ORD and then at the top-right corner of the screen choose “Chicago Heli”.  This is what you will find for our area.  

Helicopter Aviation Chart w/Legend

Sherman Hospital: 847-742-9800
St. Joes: 847-695-3200

This incident yesterday with Elgin Police Department having to ground their drone emphasizes the issue of “communications”.  News-Media helicopter pilots in the Chicago area have a specific VHF frequency (123.025mhz AM) they communicate with each other on when over a scene.  When you see 3 or 4 news choppers over something, know that they are talking to each other.  That communications network needs to be expanded to include FAA Part 107 licensed UAV operations for media and public safety as well.  The 2 can coexist in the same airspace safely, as long as they’re communicating with each other.

Icom IC-A24 Aviation Hand-Held

Icom IC-A24 Aviation Hand-Held

Communicating would require a special portable (aviation) radio like the one in the photo to the left as well as the procedure in how to use it.  While not cheap, it truly is a necessity if you are flying for a news-organization, Police or Fire department and I can see there being some resistance by the Helicopter pilots.  Let’s face it, they hate drones.  While most will cite safety concerns, there needs to be just one fact brought into the conversation. There have been zero (0) deaths caused by sUAVs.  You cannot say the same for EMS or News-choppers.  That said, I feel there needs to be more emphasis on “Communcations” in the FAA’s 107 requirements.  Also since the FAA has waived their magic-wand and made sUAVs “Aircraft” by definition so they can regulate them, there needs to be registration of aircraft and a “D-Number” issued to those aircraft if for no other reason, communications-identification.

 

 

 

Sycamore PD’s Investigation into DUI Un-arresting of Elgin Police Sgt., Haulted?

Sycamore PD’s Investigation into DUI Un-arresting of Elgin Police Sgt., Haulted?

1.How did Sycamore’s city manager Brian Gregory find out about Glenn Therialt’s self-destruction that night?

2.  Will other officers from the Sycamore Police Department come forward with more information now that retaliation by their former Chief is unlikely?  Apparently Theriault was not well-liked. (I wonder why?)

3.  Will Elgin Police Sgt. Mark Whaley have his license suspended as required by law for anyone who refuses a field-sobriety test?  If not, I imagine everyone arrested for DUI in northern Illinois will now be citing “The Whaley Clause” reciting the words “I don’t wanna take any tests!”

I also heard form sources last week that the investigation by Sycamore PD into Glenn Theriault’s self-destruction, was itself, suspended.  This was substantiated today with their response for more information when they simply denied the request.  Why would they do that?  Here’s why….

Theriault has already caused this little city more grief than he’s worth, but if nothing else becomes of this, nothing will happen to Elgin Police Sergeant Mark Whaley, and he’s basically responsible for the entire ordeal.

According to the Daily Herald’s June 6th story, Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said “Any actions taken that night by Theriault were outside Elgin’s jurisdiction”.  While true, the calls to EPD’s Cmdr. Colin Fleury in the early hours of April 8th, suggest while “it was outside Elgin’s jurisdiction”, it apparently wasn’t outside Elgin’s Police Department’s influence.  Whaley had already been booked for DUI and was then “un-arrested”.  Also, anyone who operates a motor vehicle on any road in this state has consented to testing of his blood, breath, or urine. Anyone who fails such testing, or refuses it altogether, will have his license suspended according to Illinois Law.

Elgin Police Deputy Chief Bill Wolf later in that same DH article said this key phrase:

Elgin police launched a formal investigation — meaning Whaley could receive three or more days’ suspension. They hope to receive Sycamore’s investigation report before making a determination.”

But……if in fact, the investigation was suspended in Sycamore, there will be no “report” or findings to make that decision by.  They will have succeeded once again (Remember Elgin Police Officer Phil Brown’s DUI?), in making a DUI charge against a police officer, disappear.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::POOOOOOOOOF!!!:::::::::::::::::::

It’s like….magic.

 

 

 

 

Don’t get burned by the still-smoldering embers.

June 1, 2017 – By Bill O’Neill

For the last year now, the City of Elgin has been failing to produce documents specifically asked for via FOIA.  The Freedom of Information Act is not only state law, but Federal as well.  It’s intent is to assure to us (anyone tax-paying citizen), transparency in government.  The City of Elgin has been using FOIA’s for the opposite.  It shields the elitists most of the time, by burning others as a diversion.

Specifics you ask?  Well….a year ago I was informed by someone of an officer’s bad temper and said that if I didn’t believe it, to look at the officer’s history of domestic violence.  The officer in question was Sgt. Eric Echevarria.  So I did that.  I FOIA’d the department for complaints or internal reports concerning him.  Their reply?  “none exist”.  I knew at least one report in 2015 did in fact, “exist” so now I had to get creative.  I knew everything about this case down to the report number.  After another 6 months of beating around the bush only to get stonewalled, I finally got that report which  proved what I’m typing tonight is in fact, fact.  I received not only that, but more. One incident even occurring at a city-owned Rope house!  The only way they released that report was when I had to ask for it by address.  It clearly had Eric Echevarria’s name in it.  That one should have been returned when I asked for reports involving him in June of last year.  Instead, they juke and run at every opportunity.

Speaking of that (city-owned) ROPE house, These photos (click here for the full album!) are also from that same ROPE house.  Big deal you say….some under-age teen scantily dressed, took a photo by a squad-car.  Look closer at the photo.  Aside from this being a party AT the ROPE house, this (then only 19 years old) underage teen is holding a beer, she’s posing her crotch-shot on the top of an Elgin Squad with (then Lt.) Deputy Chief Bill Wolf clearly in the background watching.

I’ve said this at least 100 times over the last year.  When you’re in the clique, you’re golden.  God help you though if you’re not in their clique.  They’ll shove you out, light you on fire and watch you burn while they’re enjoying a cool beer and an underage chick posing for photos.  These photos were from 10/27/2007.  Yeah, they’re 10 years old but the only thing that fact holds relevant, is again, what I’ve said 101 times now….When you’re in the clique, you’re golden.  

A short time after these photos were taken for the pleasure of Lt. Bill Wolf, they threw one of their own into the pit and lit em on fire to protect another clique-member, officer Phil Brown.  The officer then sacrificed was Lt. Sean Rafferty.  Probably the best, most decorated & honest police officer on the department but now being accused of racism because he was chosen as the officer to conduct the internal investigation into Phil Brown’s clusterf*ck.  This was their only way out, their smoke-screen so they executed their plan and the Daily Herald and Courier Newspapers of course did all they could to see he burned to a crisp, even if it was for no other reason than to protect the clique.  Once the smoke and mirrors were pulled out, Rafferty’s flawless career was tarnished and Brown…..he went back to being a school liaison officer at Elgin High School where he is now.

What no one ever reported about that photograph of Rafferty and Wolek is that there was third person in that picture originally.  Officer Al Young. A young-black officer who was cut out of the picture because…. how could they use that for calling him a racist, if he’s with a black officer? Since then, the newspapers have done all they could to enforce the falsehoods these people are handing down as facts, and our City Council just sits on their hands.

Fast-Forward to 2014.  Jason Lentz bucked the system when reporting his Lt. Matt Udelhoven for taking inappropriate photos of a 12 year old female suicide victim.  Udelhoven received no disciplinary actions for his tasteless act according to the City.  He simply and quietly requested to be self-demoted back to Sgt.  This alone has to tell you how absolutely vile this was, that they were forced to deal with it concerning one of their own now…..but without shame and certainly not the fan-fair of Rafferty, Lentz or Sharp.  Unlike Lentz who’s name on the internet yeilds 100’s maybe 1000’s of returns linking him to a supposedly questionable post on Facebook but good luck finding the articles that reported that the City cleared him of any wrong-doing.  Jason Lentz got his job back, with back-pay.

Next on their hit-list was officer Paul Sharp.  Right up there with Rafferty and Lentz as being one of the best, he made someones’s sh*t-list and the next thing you know, he’s also being threatened with termination.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t get the Kane County State’s Attorney to see it their way so they had to keep him on the payroll.  Yeah, they stuck him behind a desk but I’m sure  it kills them every day to still see him there! 😉

In January of this year, my first FOIA to the City was for emails to and from Jeff Swoboda for 2015 & 2016.  (It was apparent over the year that they were not forthcoming with some documents I’d asked foor. Side-note: Previously in 2014 and 2015 I had FOIA’d the department for emails to and from Sean Stegall (then City Manager) and emails regarding Jason Lentz and Paul Sharp.  The City had no problem returning these to me and in one case, because the number of emails, provided them on a disc.

Elgin Police Department is riddled with great cops who live under the thumb of 2 people and they can’t complain about anything because, who would they complain to? Most of their supervisors are so far up the Chief’s butt he no longer requires an endoscopy every year.  At the stroke of a carefully worded “Press Release”, they’ll trash whoever tries to oppose them BS story and the papers will print it because after all,  it’s an “official press release” from the Chief!  Make no mistake, one hand washes the other when it comes to the 2 local papers.

It’s June 1st, 6 months after my first request and I still have not received what I asked for on January 1st of this year.  In March, I even lessened my request to only be for emails for 1 year.  As of today, I haven’t received those either.  Complaints have been filed with the Illinois Attorney General’s office.

The Police Chief, and Deputy Chief apparently believe they’re above the law.  Is it any wonder that former Elgin Police Department Commander Glenn Theriault UN-ARRESTED EPD Sgt. Mark Whaley?  This is just a continuation of the standing “system” and the only people who have the ability to change it, are our Mayor, Dave Kaptain and our City Council.  I’ve created an email address on Elginet that if you send one-email to, to are sending it to all of them, including the new City Manager Rick Kozal.  That email address is ElginCityCouncil@elginet.com

PLEASE feel free to send them a message asking them for once and for all, to provide the open/transparent government, our State has guaranteed us BY LAW.

What the City of Elgin needs, is a Citizen Police oversight committee that looks into these questionable cases and calls out the falsehoods contained in them.  Maybe call it the Elgin Crime Commission.  Because they’re things this Administration is not telling you regarding crimes but….there’s no checks and balance system so they can get away with it forever if we let them.  People on this committee must be something other than the bobbing heads that have been on other committees.

 

 

 

Where’s Sycamore Police Chief Glenn Theriault?

May 21, 2017 – Where’s Glenn? 43 Days without so much as a simple comment after the very public un-arrest of former work-buddy Mark Whaley, a Sergeant on the Elgin Police Department!

43 days since Sycamore Police Chief “un-arrested” Elgin Police Department Mark Whaley for DUI.  Keep in mind, it was almost a month before any of this information was even put out there which leads one to believe that they really thought it would just go away, unnoticed.

Video of the 1:40am traffic stop by Sycamore Police Officer Luke Kampmeier pretty much shows us an (allegedly) impaired driver who couldn’t remember what he’d told the police officer less than a minute before.  That driver, Elgin Police Sergeant Mark Whaley appeared agitated when Kampmeier asked simple questions like “where are you coming from?” to which his answer changed from having just dropped off his wife and kid, to coming from training..  Once told he would have to get out of the vehicle, Whaley clearly states more than once, that he wasn’t going to or didn’t want to take any (field-sobriety) tests.  Such a response by the average driver in Illinois would yield an instant suspension of your driving privileges.  I also find it hard to believe that Whaley was unarmed.  A member of Elgin Police Department’s SWAT team supposedly “coming from training”.  Think about that one for a few minutes.

80 minutes after being arrested, Whaley was released with Kampmeier stating “well it looks like you’re going to be un-arrested”.  Whaley got his personal items and left and one of the officers was ordered to take Sgt. Whaley home.

Nothing about this story surfaced for weeks.  Not until April 26th, did anyone in Sycamore or Elgin learn of this until the Daily Chronicle published the story about Theriault being on an indefinite paid leave.  18 days.  Even then it took weeks for Sycamore PD to release information via FOIA.  By State Law, they have 5 days to respond to a FOIA request, and the ability to request another 5 days.  By that time though, the truth was out there, just not being acknowledged.  Clearly there was an over-step of the legal process by the Chief Glenn Theriault, not to mention the ethical issues but what we don’t know is who or what brought attention to it in the first place to make the City Manager place him on paid-leave during the internal investigation?

Then you need to think about the Elgin Sgt. who was arrested (or un-arrested!) for DUI in the first place.  Was the Kampmeier wrong in making that arrest?  Video evidence says no.  If this was a headlight out, or just rolling a stop-sign, I could see a professional courtesy letting the officer go with a warning.  Lord knows, it’s happened out there enough with another Elgin Police Officer.

Sources told Elginet that Elgin Police Officer Linda Williamson had been pulled over by Sycamore PD as well as Kane County and Dekalb County Sheriff’s office for excessively speeding and in all but one instance, she received that professional courtesy. One Sgt. however, decided enough was enough though and decided she would get a citation for doing 95mph in a 50 zone.  The early morning hours of April 8th I would say more than warranted the stop (hearing Whaley on the Dashcam video) or…. they were sick of extending that courtesy again.

Regardless, answers need to be given.  What’s happening to Theriault?  Here’s what my money’s on.

Glenn Theriault is negotiating a golden parachute (Much like EPD’s Robert Beeter), in exchange for his resignation. Then in a month or so when things die down, he’ll turn up someplace like Rockford PD working with his old pal Dan O’Shea.

As for Whaley……he’ll probably get the same punishment handed to him, that was given to a U46 School Resource Officer Phil Brown years ago.  A 1-day suspension.

Keep asking questions Sycamore and Elgin!

 

 

A little Elgin Police Department History…

(note: Before I even start this, I want to be upfront.  I’m not a “reporter”.  I’m a “Photographer”.  I’m trying to tell the stories that “Reporters” won’t touch because if they did, they’d nver get another press-release from EPD.  That said….here’s some reading & homework for you to ponder.)

The Cover-up Committee

May 14, 2017 – The events in Sycamore at the beginning of April were an all-too-telling reenactment of the Elgin PD Good Ole Boy’s club that is alive and well. People in Elgin have been so duped by our chief for so long that this is a mere fly in the ointment for Glenn.  Swoboda will hold his hand through it all.

Next will be 20-30 posts/stories somewhere about how wonderful a person he is. We see it here every week. it’s a 20:1 ratio of good/fluffy/rainbow and unicorn stories to every 1 post about crime on the Elgin Police Department Facebook page.  The page should probably be renamed “The Jeff Swoboda Fan-Club” page.

Cover-ups like what’s being attempted in Sycamore, have been going on for years here as far back as 10 years ago when officer Phil Brown led Bartlett Police on a chase. Brown was charged with driving under the influence, fleeing and eluding police, speeding and disobeying a stop sign. He got continuances on the case for 2 years. Finally Bartlett PD stopped sending cops to his court-dates and the first day they didn’t show up, his lawyer asked the judge to dismiss the charges, and she did. Brown came out smelling like a rose because in the middle of all this, he cried “racism” and the media reported that and dragged a good-cop though the mud, instead of his drunken-blunder coming home from Deputy Chief Beeter’s wedding reception.  He was also caught in an FBI wiretap back around the same time period but that seems to have been cleansed from the Internet. Go figure.

In June of 2016, someone posted a video on one of the Elgin websites that showed a police officer beating a subject on Chicago St. Hours after posting that someone messaged me and asked if I’d seen it. It was removed from FB pretty quick but I did see it. I said the subject probably had it coming and not to always spin it so the cop’s the bad-guy. They sent back that the cop was a “hot-head” and shouldn’t be a cop, and could prove it. They then said to look how many times the police were at his house for domestic voilence calls. I immediately sent an FOIA to Elgin Police Department asking for any and all reports, internals or memos regarding Sgt. Eric Echevarria. Their reply was:

No Such Files Exist

That was not true, in the least.

Echevarria CAD Event Data

2 reports (Report numbers: 11-01-1355 & 2015-00004640) existed where Echevarria’s wife called police on him. In one instance, she walked into the police department to make a complaint. She was talked out of it by his superiors (again). If the wife HAD pressed charges against her husband and he was convicted, it would have been illegal for the Sgt. to possess a handgun. Illinois law says:

If you have been convicted of domestic battery (felony or misdemeanor), aggravated domestic battery or a substantially similar offense, you are not eligible to obtain an Firearm Owner’s Identification Card so….he couldn’t be a cop, but Swoboda & Company wasn’t going to let that happen.

No charges were pursued and EPD literally protected the information from anyone trying to get it through conventional means and even promoted Officer Echevarria to Sergeant. He’s rising quickly…..but should he be?

Echevarria was also part of the Puerto Rico expedition where the City spent thousands of dollars and sent police officers to find “Hispanic” police-candidates. They wined and dined people on their mini-vacation and the came back with 1 name and THAT guy person bounced out of the police academy so the trip was a total loss….except for those who got the free vacation on our dime.

In 2010, Lt. Matt Udelhoven was witnessed (by other officers) at the scene of a suicide taking photos of the dead body…with his personal phone. The suicide victim was 12 years old.  It was reported to (then) Deputy Chief Cecil Smith who  quietly with no paperwork, turned it over to (then) Lt. Glenn Theriault for investigation. No report or paperwork was ever written on this. No disciplinary paperwork whatsoever. In a very short and to the point letter to the Police and Fire Commission, Chief Swoboda said that Lt. Udelhoven requested to be “returned to the rank of Sergeant due to personal matters”.

Why Phil Brown and Eric Echevarria you ask? Why them as the Chief’s pets? So he can use them as his token “minorities”. Parade them around and say “EPD is not racist……..look what I’ve done for these pathetic police officers in spite of themselves”. The City was sued by 6 black officers in the 90’s.  This was insurance and publicity that would make the City (especially Swoboda) look like choir-boys should it ever be sued again.  Even if it was at the direct expense of decorated Police Lt. Sean Rafferty.  The local papers made Brown’s incident more about a false racial discord, than it did about a misfit cop.

Jeff Swoboda developed something called “Hero Syndrome” (it’s a real thing!). Someone who creates bad scenarios so they can appear to fix them and save…whoever or whatever. Just look at the Elgin Police Department’s Facebook page! You’ll find more stories about Jeff Swoboda and people or organizations celebrating him, than you will about anything else. Look at the department profile picture!  It’s HIM! Go through the pictures of their community meetings like the “Coffee with a Cop” community meetings. You’ll see a few pics of the events, but not much detail. You’ll see 10-12 cops at these things, but not anywhere near as many citizens attending. You’ll never see video.  In fact, most of the people who attend these are the same people over and over again. His “fan-club” so to speak (mainly Seniors) & CERT Team members (volunteers). They’ll go anywhere for free cookies & coffee.

I once suggested broadcasting these events on YouTube Live or Facebook Live, but the Chief said it would be too….impersonal.

I also suggested a sign-in sheet for these events…..that went ignored because then it would be too easy to prove what I’m saying as true.

Swoboda friend (and Good Ole boy) Robert Beeter lost his job for his stupidity, but skated jail time because the Chief told him to put back the money he’d stolen from his ex-wife. He’d already committed a felony….but the Chief made it…nothing.  A Deputy Chief of a big-city police department ripping his ex-wife off for $8500 would not play well to the media.

There are many stories like these inside the Elgin Police Department but you rarely hear them because they’re cloaked in secrecy and only if you know exactly where to look and what to ask for, can you find them.

Now that you’ve read the above highlighting only Brown, Echevarria, Udelhoven and Beeter,  Consider what they did to Jason Lentz for……a Facebook post. Paul Sharp! he’s one of the best cops on the department and they’ve relegated him to desk-duty because someone complained he pushed em. These were opportunities for Swoboda to remove the squeeky-wheels.  They failed to produce any criminal charges agains Sharp and well……we all know Lentz got his job back with back-pay!  That had to kill Swoboda.

Paul Sharp and Jason Lentz spoke up long ago about the Good ole boy network in place at EPD. They got hung out to dry….while those who shouldn’t even have a badge right now were allowed to get (or keep) their pensions, or in Echevarria’s case….promoted with a free vacation.

Now the tradition is continuing out of town.

Wake up Sycamore.