10/24/2007

50 DUI cases dropped over Ill. officer's improper procedure

Related P1 Tip: DUI physical sobriety tests 

By Eric Herman and Frank Main
Staff Reporters

CHICAGO, Ill. — Cook County prosecutors have dropped more than 50 drunken-driving cases recently because the police officer who wrote the citations did not follow procedure, authorities said Tuesday.

Chicago Police Officer John Haleas has been disciplined but remains on full duty, a police spokeswoman said. The police department's Internal Affairs Division (IAD) sustained a complaint against him, said Cook County state's attorney spokesman John Gorman.

Haleas has been honored three times in the past five years for writing the most DUI tickets in Illinois.

Concerns about the officer arose in April when assistant state's attorneys were doing a "ride-along" with him.

After pulling a driver over on suspicion of driving under the influence, he allegedly failed to do three required things: keep the suspect under 20 minutes of continuous observation, give him a field sobriety test and warn him of the consequences of refusing to take a Breathalyzer exam.

"He didn't do any of those," Gorman said.

Delay in reporting the incident?
Prosecutors reported the incident to IAD. On Oct. 10, IAD ruled the officer failed to follow proper procedure.

The state's attorney's office dropped the April ride-along case and then dropped 50 more misdemeanor DUI cases, Gorman said.

The office is looking into the officer's possible involvement in felony DUI cases.

Chicago Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said the state's attorney's office waited five weeks to report the incident to them.

"That's a concern," she said, adding, "our investigation revealed conflicting statements from several witnesses."

Bond said that since the April incident, prosecutors have asked Haleas to appear in traffic court numerous times.

In 2004, 2005 and 2006, Haleas was honored by the Schaumburg-based Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists as the cop with the most DUI arrests in Illinois. In 2006, he made 344 such arrests, the organization said. He was in the top five every year since 2001.

In 2004, Haleas was among four officers credited with rescuing people from a burning building. He and another officer kicked in a door and woke up four people, guiding them to safety, police said.

Copyright 2007 The Chicago Tribune

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