By Chris Hottensen
The Southern Illinoisan
MT. VERNON, Ill. — Police officers in Mount Vernon and Du Quoin have been disciplined for extending "professional courtesy" to people who committed minor but chargeable acts.
The first incident, which involved a Du Quoin police officer, occurred Dec. 26 in Mount Vernon and the second incident, which involved the spouse of a Mount Vernon police officer, took place Feb. 8 in Du Quoin.
"There were two separate, unrelated incidents where a police officer or the spouse of an officer committed minor acts they could have been charged with or arrested for and the officers chose not to follow the law," Mount Vernon City Manager Ron Neibert said.
None of the officers involved were suspended or terminated.
Extending professional courtesy goes against the policies of both Du Quoin and Mount Vernon.
"Our message to all our officers is we expect all our citizens to receive equal application of treatment in law enforcement," Du Quoin Mayor Rex Duncan said.
Equality is the policy the departments strive for and regret they failed to achieve in these two incidents.
"They know our policy is everybody gets treated the same," Neibert said. "We had some officers exercise poor judgment and they were reminded everyone is to be treated equally."
Even though both incidents involved Du Quoin and Mt. Vernon officers, Neibert and Duncan both claimed the incidents were unrelated and the same officers were not involved in both incidents.
Duncan said the offending Du Quoin officer has a reputation for being hard on violators.
"The officer is known to be pretty tough on traffic safety, but there have been progressive disciplinary steps taken," Duncan said. "He's been reminded, as well the rest of the department, of this expectation of equal application of law."
Neibert and Duncan both said they aren't aware of any previous incidents of "professional courtesy" in their police departments.
Reprinted with permission from the Southern Illinoisan