Does the Law Apply to the Police? Maybe Not.
In November 2007, off-duty Chicago police officer John Ardelean, was out drinking at Martini Ranch. Security videotape shows the police officer drinking beer and shots at the bar. The videotape shows Ardelean drinking three beers and four shots in just over two hours.
After leaving the bar, Ardelean slammed his vehicle into another killing that vehicle’s two occupants. Last week, Judge Thomas Gainer ruled that there was no probable cause for the arrest and detention of Ardelean. Why? Because the police officers at the scene did not do a field sobriety test or force Ardelean to blow.
If that were you or I that slammed our vehicle into another– killing two– would the four responding police officers NOT give us a field sobriety test?
In general, I applaud police officers for the work they perform in our streets. However, when cops protect their own and abuse their authority– which they do too often (see my September 2009 post about Lisa Hofstra)– they give themselves a bad name. They ask why the public does not respect them? Maybe because they do not live by the same rules we live by. They police everybody but themselves. Either that, or our crack police officers who came to the scene of this wreck in November 2007 were not able to discern that Ardelean was drinking at the time.
I have too much respect for our police officers and their detection skills: they knew and they gave him a pass.
Richard Bolling and Joseph Frugoli are two men having something in common with Ardelean: Both are Chicago Police Officers who have killed others while driving drunk in recent memory. Both were given passes by responding officers or the judicial system.
I have been out with suburban attorneys– people who either present or defend DUI cases– who have told me not to worry about drinking, if I get pulled over in a particular town just use their name. I am fortunate that I live in Chicago and those names do not have influence in Cook County, otherwise, I may have taken them up on their offer. That the offer is made is the problem: police, state’s attorneys and public defenders do not police their own, city and suburban alike.
One example of suburban laws not applying to those who are sworn to protect them comes from DuPage County. In 2007, Jane Radostits, a DuPage County prosecutor lost her life when she got into a collision after drinking at Oak Brook’s Kona Grill with other DuPage County prosecutors. Radostits was drinking with other members of the DuPage County State’s Attorney office because a bomb scare closed down the courthouse. After the lunch, a colleague drove Radostits back to the courthouse so she could get her vehicle. Radostits left the courthouse without her seatbelt on and caused a four car collision which took her own life.
The death of Radostits was preventable. As was the death of Miguel Flores and Erick Lagunas, the men Ardelean killed that fateful night in November 2007. I only hope that Jody Weis is as good as his word and he will look into the incidents involving John Ardelean, Joseph Frugoli and Richard Bolling.
Am I really supposed to follow instructions given to me by one of these men if I am stopped for a traffic violation? Should I respect these men who took another’s life because they drank too much and drove?
Sorry Officer Ardelean (should we still be paying this man to protect us?), I’m going to look at you and your brethren differently until you all buck up and apply the law to you the same way you do to us.