(IL) Man who lost gun is candidate for sheriff


January 25, 2006, 02:20 PM
Man who lost gun is candidate for sheriff
MAGGIE BORMAN, The Telegraph 01/24/2006

CARLINVILLE -- A department veteran now running for Macoupin County sheriff was identified Monday as the man who lost his loaded revolver at a state prison.

At an afternoon press conference, Sheriff Don Albrecht identified Capt. Jeff "Porky" Rhodes as the deputy disciplined for having lost his gun at Graham Correctional Facility in Hillsboro in November.

Albrecht acted Monday in the wake of criticism that he was shirking public responsibility by not being more forthcoming about the incident. More than 10 weeks passed between the time Rhodes lost his weapon and when Albrecht announced that he was giving his deputy a two-day suspension without pay. Until Monday, he never identified Rhodes by name and was reluctant to discuss the issue at all.

Albrecht’s refusal to name the deputy prompted a Telegraph editorial last week that in turn prompted the sheriff to call the press conference.

"I am addressing this issue today in response to an editorial that appeared in the Alton Telegraph on Friday, Jan. 20. The Telegraph article asked many questions and I feel the people of Macoupin County have a right to the answers," Albrecht told reporters in the session held in the Macoupin County Board meeting room in the sheriff/jail complex.

Albrecht gave this timeline of events:

- Nov. 3, 2005: Rhodes lost his loaded pistol during a prisoner transport to the Graham Correctional Facility in Hillsboro. (An Illinois Department of Corrections spokesperson incorrectly reported the date as Nov. 4 in a previous Telegraph story). Rhodes was not wearing a duty belt containing his approved duty weapon, which is in direct violation of Macoupin County Sheriff’s Department policy. Instead, he chose to store his duty belt and regulation weapon in the trunk of his squad car. He had a loaded snub-nose revolver stored in an unsecured inside driver’s door side panel of his squad car, also a violation of department policy. Rhodes allowed his snub-nose revolver to fall from his squad car while he was exiting the vehicle.

The revolver was found lying on the prison parking lot by a correctional officer who turned the weapon over to a gatehouse guard. The weapon was returned to Rhodes before he left the prison.

Albrecht received a call from Warden Steve Bryant informing him of the incident. Albrecht then requested a copy of the Department of Corrections report during that call and was told it would be sent to him upon completion. The incident was noted in an internal investigation file, thus beginning the Sheriff Department investigation.

N Nov. 18: Late in the day, Albrecht received and reviewed a copy of the prison incident report.During this time Rhodes was off work on a pre-approved vacation. At this time the offense posed no on-going threat to public safety and Albrecht said he made a fiscally responsible decision not to call Rhodes in on overtime according to Fraternal Order of Police contract.

N Nov. 28: Rhodes returned to duty and on Nov. 29, Albrecht met with him and a Fraternal Order of Police representative regarding the incident. Rhodes was required to give a verbal report of the incident at that time and was told to submit a written report.

N Dec. 5: The written report was received from Rhodes.

N Dec. 5 through Dec. 10: Internal investigation took place involving consultation with department policy, Fraternal Order of Police union contract and Rhodes’ report.

N Jan. 12: A disciplinary meeting was held that included Albrecht, Chief Deputy Art Billings, Rhodes, and an FOP representative. During the meeting a summary of the incident reports was reviewed, and Rhodes agreed that all facts were correct. The incident was discussed and the deputy was disciplined under department policy and union guidelines.

Albrecht told reporters at the press conference that Rhodes was disciplined for the following violations: failure to report the incident to a supervisor; failure to wear an approved duty holster; failure to carry an approved duty weapon; and failure to properly secure a firearm.

Rhodes, a 25-year law enforcement veteran, has been with the department since 1985, and served as chief deputy from 2002 until last year, when former sheriff Gary Wheeler retired early in July, and Albrecht was appointed sheriff and chose a new chief deputy.

Albrecht, a 20-year veteran of law enforcement, served 15 years with the Staunton Police Department, then served as an investigator with the Illinois Secretary of State Police until his appointment as sheriff in July.

Albrecht and Rhodes, who are both Democrats, have announced their candidacies for sheriff in the 2006 election. They will face each other in the March 21 primary.

Rhodes, who has not returned repeated phone calls from the Telegraph since the incident occurred, adhered to that routine again on Monday.

Albrecht, in response to reporters’ questions, said his reluctance to identify Rhodes as the deputy involved was not politically motivated nor was it a matter of favoring a department employee, as the Telegraph editorial suggested some people would view it.

"The fact that he is a candidate (for sheriff) didn’t enter into it; I tried not to involve politics in this issue. I am a fair person and public embarrassment is not in my make-up," Albrecht said. "I felt that it was in no one’s best interest to publicly embarrass Captain Rhodes, but after careful consideration, and speaking with an attorney with the Illinois Sheriff’s Association, I felt I had no choice but to disclose the information."

Albrecht said he is well aware that Rhodes’ name was on the street since the incident occurred.

"Had it not been a political year it would not have been a big issue," he said.

Albrecht said his first priority had been to ensure Rhodes was given due process for the offense and then to be sure releasing his name via the press was legal.

"I want to assure the people of Macoupin County that the ongoing sheriff’s campaign will not interfere with my responsibility to provide them with an open, accessible sheriff’s department," Albrecht said. "Capt. Rhodes is not a rookie. He is aware of the department’s policies and he has agreed that discipline was warranted for his lapse of responsibility."

Albrecht said he had not been aware identifying an employee involved in disciplinary action was open to public disclosure, noting that the department policy book is very thick, but added he would review the policy book to ensure that such policy was in place, in writing.


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Standing Wolf
January 25, 2006, 07:19 PM
Capt. Rhodes is not a rookie. He is aware of the department’s policies and he has agreed that discipline was warranted for his lapse of responsibility.

I have a hunch the voters will supply the needed discipline.

January 27, 2006, 03:41 PM
maybe he could go to Mayberry , Andy never carried a gun

January 27, 2006, 04:10 PM
Here is one from Seattle and our Chief of Police who went shopping with his wife for five hours in "HIS" unmarked police car:confused: :

Notice that it isn't a policy issue but no one said anything about responsibility.:banghead:

Chief didn't violate policy by leaving his gun in car

By Michael Ko
Seattle Times staff reporter

A Seattle Police Department spokesman said Chief Gil Kerlikowske did not violate department policy by leaving his personal gun underneath his driver's-side seat while he shopped with his wife the day after Christmas.

When Kerlikowske returned about five hours later, his 9-mm Glock semi-automatic had been stolen from his unmarked police car, a Ford Crown Victoria.

"The fact of the matter is that we had in the city of Seattle 58 guns stolen out of cars in 2004," said police spokesman Sean Whitcomb. "The chief is chagrined, but unfortunately, these type of crimes are not uncommon."

Kerlikowske declined to comment about the incident.

According to police, here is what happened: About 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 26, Kerlikowske and his wife had just parked the car at Sixth Avenue and Olive Street so they could shop at the Pacific Place mall in downtown Seattle, Whitcomb said.

The car was on the west side of the street, according to the police report.

Kerlikowske was wearing his loaded pistol in a holster, but decided to put them both underneath the driver's-side seat because he didn't want to carry the weapon inside under his coat, Whitcomb said.

Kerlikowske then walked away and thought he pushed the remote-lock device on the car, Whitcomb said. It's possible the locking device didn't activate, Whitcomb said.

Kerlikowske and his wife returned to the car about 3:30 p.m., Whitcomb said. The gun was gone.

There was no sign of forced entry on the car. Nothing was taken except the gun.

"There is certainly the possibility that someone saw the chief, recognized him and decided to break into his car and look for something," Whitcomb said.

The Police Department's manual states in section 1.153V ("Off-Duty Firearms"):

"Officers are expected at all times to take appropriate action to protect people and property.

"When within the City, or when acting as an agent of the City outside the territorial limits of the City of Seattle, officers shall be armed with a Department approved firearm.

"Officers participating in activities that make it impractical, unsafe or unwise to be armed are exempt from this policy. Examples are: sporting events, family activities or social events where alcohol is being consumed, etc."

Kerlikowske's gun, which has not turned up, has been registered in the department's stolen-gun database. There are no suspects.

The department is researching whether to install gun safes in unmarked police cars.

Whitcomb said there will be no follow-up investigation into Kerlikowske's actions.

As to whether Kerlikowske has a greater responsibility to keep track of his gun because he is the police chief, Whitcomb said there were more than 13,000 car prowls in the city last year.

"He is a public figure so when these type of things happen to public figures, there is a greater amount of scrutiny," he said. "But even people who are public figures can become crime victims."

Michael Ko: 206-515-5653 or mko@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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