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Not the judge 
and jury

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012 5:40 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012 5:42 p.m. CST

The purpose of this letter is to bring to the attention of Bureau County citizens a method of investigation used by a Bureau County Sheriff’s Deputy to investigate a possible criminal felony act.

I had a confrontation with an individual, who intentionally spit in my direction, with the spit hitting me in the face. I reported the incident to the Bureau County Sheriff’s Department. A deputy was assigned to the Case Number 11-06978.

Because of the limited number of words allowed by the editor, I will list parts of the report filed by the deputy in his own words. “On Dec. 23, I made contact by phone with (name withheld), (name withheld) denied spitting on Doyle. Given that the stories are directly contradictory, and that Doyle specifically drove back to the scene after being flipped off, I am not filing charges against anyone.”

When investigating over the phone, how does the sheriff’s department make sure they have the correct address, the correct phone number, make a positive identification of the person whom they are questioning, read body language, experience nervousness or make a decision if the person is telling the truth?

The advantages to the person being questioned by the above method are many. Here are a few: No surprise arrival of a police vehicle at one’s home; no embarrassing moments explaining the visit to friends; questioning takes place in the comfort of your own home with the possibility of your family not knowing; a willing person in the home could answer the questions for you. If you fail the questioning by the sheriff’s deputy and are asked to remain at your residence, until they can get there to place you under arrest and take you to jail, the thought of leaving might enter one’s head. A person facing the loss of their probation and the possibility of being returned to incarceration might very well run.

Over the phone questioning allows one deputy more time for questioning, since there is less time spent driving. Less manpower is required which includes salaries, schooling, overtime, pensions etc., less police cruisers are needed along with all the upkeep and fuel required.

When the sheriff’s department makes the decision of whether to file charges or not to file charges in a possible criminal felony act, the role of the state’s attorney has been reduced.

I hope the citizens of Bureau County have not given the authority to the sheriff’s department to make this kind of decision. This type of a decision could possibly lead to a citizen not having the right to a trial in a court of law. Law enforcement takes an oath to serve and protect, not be the judge and jury on the street.

Lee Doyle

Henry

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