The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Our Sheriff's Giving A Mixed Message

by Dessa Rodeffer, Publisher/Owner

15 June 2005

I am disappointed in Henderson County Sheriff Mark Lumbeck's recent letter to the Illinois State Police, telling them he did not want our state troopers patrolling in Oquawka. He is sending voters a mixed message.

A copy of his letter is at the bottom of this page.

Click-it or Ticket; we've all heard the theme. But what's behind it?

The Sheriff states he can do it all on his own and doesn't need State Police help.

Sheriff, your campaign statements said you would have a good working relationship with the state police.


With your letter of "outrage" toward the state police in mind, I found the professionalism of Lieutenant Tim Wooldridge, Commander of the State Police District #14.

He had no comments about you, your department, or your letter. He just told me the purpose of their special traffic enforcement patrols which you call "Wolf Pack." His focus was where it should be, on saving lives.

The state police made this program a high priority in 2003 to reduce fatalities. Since then, it has helped lower the amount of fatalities statewide significantly.

Lt. Wooldridge explained that in 2004, we had the lowest fatalities statewide since 1942. There were 54 fewer teen deaths and 100 total fewer deaths than 2003.

The state troopers who were in Oquawka were on the Special Traffic Enforcement Patrols (s.T.E.P.). These Patrols are sent out statewide to areas that statistically show higher fatality rates.

The state police reduce fatality by reducing speed and checking seat belts. Statistics show that reducing these factors reduces fatalities.

In response to the letter, yes the state police want these seat belt numbers. They want them because ultimately if it takes 100 tickets to save 1 life, it's worth it to them. Protection could save your life.

You are right there are approximately 1700 citizens in Oquawka, and when you're trying to eliminate this program you're putting their lives in jeopardy.

It may not be today or tomorrow, but statistics prove they are saving lives. Are the people in Oquawka not worth the extra protection?

Looking back over the years, I remember fatalities that have changed how I look at the gift of life: People that played a significant part in my life or parts of my friends' lives because they didn't wear their seat belt. Can you?

Remember people get upset everyday, especially when they don't know the why. Your job as the sheriff is not to jump on the bandwagon and lead the petition, because of a few complaints. Be a leader of the community, find out why. Then educate the complainers. Set a precedence.

If you are telling us that you have too much pride to allow someone to help with this effort, then you aren't the right person for the job.

We need someone who has our best interests in mind. If you don't want that responsibility, resign and give someone else a chance to make an impact.

You don't have an easy job, I thank you for the long hours, hard work, and problems you encounter, but you are a caretaker for the community. We elected and gave you the responsibility to guide and protect our community. Please take pride in your job. You represent us.

Do you like to get pulled over? Well, I don't either. It's not a joy or highlight to my day. But when we are rational, and not emotional, we can see the logic behind wearing seatbelts and slowing down.

All that the State Police and Lt. Wooldridge really want is to save lives.

If you are telling us that you have too much pride to allow additional help to protect we the citizens, (or you don't want all the laws enforced), then you aren't the right person for the job.

We need someone who has our best interests in mind.

Don Cooper, Publisher of the Galesburg Register Mail said in his Sunday editorial:

"The letters apparently were prompted by a state police enforcement effort from 1 to 4 p.m. June 4 - a Saturday. We suspect the timing wasn't an accident, but it may have prevented some."

"Lumbeck's angry, sarcastic letters aren't about law enforcement or preventing accidents. They are about politics. The sheriff scores points with voters by taking on the big bad "wolf pack" state police. But he doesn't score points with state police, who are doing their job with the "Click It or Ticket" and other intensive enforcement efforts that have been proven to be highly effective." Cooper also writes, "The sheriff should appreciate the help the state police offer to small departments like his.

"His next letter should be a public apology."

I agree.

Sheriff Wants State Police "Wolf Pack'

Out Of Oquawka

Monday, June 6, 2005

Lt. Tim Wooldridge, Commander

Illinois State Police

District 14 Macomb

Director Larry G. Trent, Illinois State Police Springfield

I am writing this letter to complain about the wolf pack patrol that is being utilized in the village of Oquawka. Over the past few months, the residents of Oquawka have been what I call, "harassed" by District 14 troopers in their quest for seat belt numbers.

The citizens of Oquawka are outraged and, frankly, so am I. I have repeatedly complained to District 14 Command that I do not want this in Oquawka. I have also complained to District 14 Command about trouble areas in Henderson County, but it has fallen on deaf ears.

I receive numerous complaints about reckless driving, and semis running people off the road on U.S. Route 34 in our county, but the wolf pack patrol chooses to work in the village of Oquawka.

Oquawka is a village of 1,700 residents, and is the county seat. Our office has a police contract with Oquawka, and if I need State Police assistance I will call for it. On Saturday, June 4, five troopers of District 14 worked their wolf pack patrol in Oquawka from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. My office received numerous complaints about the state police working Oquawka. There were complaints about troopers driving around our municipal swimming pool looking for violations.

One of your troopers, who was working the detail, came into my office and asked my telecommunicator to call him if I came into the office and complained.

I find this very unprofessional by a state trooper. I also feel that a $60,000 a year trooper needs to be protecting our highways and not the Village of Oquawka. I have that responsibility.

I want you or your office to put a stop to this wolf pack patrol in the village of Oquawka.

If something is not done, this will only cause bad relations between my office and District 14.

Mark K. Lumbeck,

Henderson County Sheriff