Illinois Police Official Gets Cherry New Ride

In January 2007, state police in Illinois seized a shiny new, souped-up Dodge Charger after arresting the car's owner on drunk driving charges. The state apparently passed a law in 2006 that allows police to take and keep the cars of repeat drunk driving offenders.

But this car didn't get auctioned off, as often happens in seizure cases. Instead, it was given to Ronald Cooley, head of the State Police Merit Board. The Merit Board oversees state police hirings, firings, discipline, and promotions.

According to the A.P., Cooley "drives the Charger between his office and Petersburg home, for local work assignments and for a handful of out-of-town state business trips." The A.P. says other police officials may be driving seized luxury vehicles, too.

The transfer also raises questions about how the department uses nearly two dozen other vehicles the police have seized, including a 2003 Cadillac Escalade, a 2004 Audi Quattro and a 2005 GMC Sierra. The agency refused to tell the AP who drives those vehicles, citing the possibility that it would jeopardize officer safety.

Compton said there’s nothing improper about handing over the sports car to the director of an agency that administers state troopers’ hiring, firing and discipline. Cooley agreed.

“It’s not a situation where I’d do anything for them or they for me,” Cooley said. “It helped our budget and they had something they couldn’t use.” 

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  • ||

    The agency refused to tell the AP who drives those vehicles, citing the possibility that it would jeopardize officer safety.

    Well, I was just going to start firing indiscriminantly into every 2004 Audi Quattro I saw, but now that I don't know which officer I'm aiming for, I think won't.

    /sarcasm.

  • I don\'t have to drive 55||

    Nothing to see here. Move along or get tazed.

  • Spoonman||

    Uh, an Audi Quattro isn't a model. It just means it has AWD.

  • Federal Dog||

    What an easy racket. All cops have to do to get an OUI conviction is state boilerplate: odor of alcohol; glassy, red eyes; slurred speech; lack of coordination. Unless there is medical evidence to the contrary -- and that evidence is secured immediately after arrest -- or the cop just looks like a damned obvious liar on the stand, conviction is virtually assured.

    In one case, the cops stated the required boilerplate and the only reason the woman got off is that an immediate blood test proved no blood alcohol content.

    Asset forfeiture is a trillion-dollar business that turns cops into nothing but organized criminals.

  • Xeones||

    that turnsproves cops intoare nothing but organized criminals

    Fixed.

  • ||

    Federal Dog, with or without asset forfeiture, cops are criminals.

  • Anonymouse||

    Damn straight it would put officers in danger...

  • ||

    The cops are essentially the mafia, because they are organized criminals, with ranks and following orders and the like.

    Consider what would happen if you fucked with a policeman in a bar as opposed to fucking with a mob guy in a bar. And then consider which one would be more likely to get punished.

  • ||

    Fuck officer safety

  • JB||

    That's fucked up. So if I pull over a cop and he's driving drunk do I get his cruiser?

    Because that happens all the fucking time.

  • ||

    I shouldn't be surprised that the concept of asset forfeiture has been stretched so far as to cover DUI arrests. I wonder what recourse people have if they go through a DUI scam like the one uncovered in CT last year?

  • Warty||

    Johnny Law, Johnny Law
    He's the littlest man I ever saw

  • Invisible Finger||

    There's precedence for this. I believe in some European countries people had routinely been arrested and had their assets seized for driving under the influence of Judaism.

  • ||

    "It helped our budget and they had something they couldn't use."

    Couldn't use? Even in an auction?

  • ||

    "It's not a situation where I'd do anything for them or they for me," Cooley said. "It helped our budget and they had something they couldn't use."

    Bullshit. You could sell it at auction, buy a Ford Focus to commute in, send the savings back to the treasury and then talk to me about conserving taxpayer resources.

    And if anyone thinks that he only uses this vehicle for official business they're a fuckin' idiot. It doubles as the family second car.

  • ||

    Me too on the condemnation of asset forfeiture laws. At best these laws skew law enforcement priorities, at worst they encourage and reward corruption. This is different than that redneck town in Texas near the Louisiana border (TLTG) in degree only.

  • hmm||

    That's nothing compared to the crap that went on in Saint Louis.

    Free cars for the chief's daughter every time she wrecked one. Cars impounded that people were still paying on that had no legal basis for being impounded.

  • ||

    I drive a 2002 Hyundai Elantra. I hope the cops aren't eying it as a new ride.

  • ellipsis||

    Is there a more corrupt state than Illinois?

  • ||

    In the mid eighties, Orange County, Florida had a sherriff named Lawson Lamar. His personal ride for a couple of years was a Cadillac ElDorado that had been pinched in a drug bust.

  • hmm||

    A Ferrari 430 parked in front of a task force officer's 170,000 dollar house is the most absurd I have seen here. I assume it was used for stings since the other vehicle there is usually one of those black suburban urban assault vehicles.

  • ||

    cops are criminals

    This.

  • BakedPenguin||

    In the mid eighties, Orange County, Florida had a sherriff named Lawson Lamar. His personal ride for a couple of years was a Cadillac El Dorado that had been pinched in a drug bust.



    And now he's a state attorney. Whee.

  • ed||

    The agency refused to tell the AP who drives those vehicles, citing the possibility that it would jeopardize officer safety

    Imagine that. "Civilians" get a little ticked off when their property is stolen? I certainly wouldn't condone a physical attack on the cop driving the car, but the car itself? It would be a shame if something were to happen to it. Like a firebomb.

  • Craig||

    In other words, they're stealing people's cars for personal use.

  • bg6||

    "There's precedence for this. I believe in some European countries people had routinely been arrested and had their assets seized for driving under the influence of Judaism."

    In 1942, Driving While Squinty-Eyed not only got YOU imprisoned, but also your whole family.

  • Mad Max||

    [initialize sarcasm]

    Balko, quit spreading stereotypes about the North. You're making the whole region look like it's inhabited by corrupt rednecks. Why don't you report on the South for a change?

    [end sarcasm]

  • ||

    And now he's a state attorney. Whee.



    That's the guy, BP.

    He's one of the few Democrats I ever voted for. But that was before it came out that he had been covering up deputies beating prisoners in th OC jail and a bunch of other shit (mostly to do with his involvement with the MBI and their shutting down strip clubs and adult bookstores). The prisoner abuse was so bad that the County Commission took the jail out of his control and set up a separate Dept of Corrections.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Hey, they can't help it that the bad guys drive such cool cars. I'm sure Cooley would happily accept a seized '89 Corolla with a feint smell of wet dog, if that was what was available.

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