Since beginning Arlingtoncardinal.com on September 12, 2001, my observations or interactions with Arlington Heights police officers and police officers from neighboring municipalities has almost always been an impressive experience — witnessing compassion, technical skills, professionalism, humility, dedication, positive attitudes, and commendable responsiveness. I often leave a scene thinking what awesome people I have just seen working beyond expectations.
When a police officer calls me brother, I feel respect, honored and pleased.
When police officers tell me they learn more from Arlington Cardinal than they do from roll call, we laugh, and I feel respect, honored and pleased.
When police officers tell me their wife asks how work was, but then says she doesn’t believe she got a good enough answer, and replies that she’ll just check the news on Arlington Cardinal; we laugh … and I feel respect, honored and pleased.
When a police officer jokes that he’s glad I am here because at least his wife knows that he’s working; we laugh … and I feel respect, honored and pleased.
When a police officer tells me his dad is filled with pride and loves to see his son, the police officer, working at a scene in an Arlington Cardinal video, I feel respect, honored and pleased.
When a police officer introduces me to her mother at a 4th of July Parade, and endorses the good work Arlington Cardinal does for the community, I feel respect, honored and pleased.
When a young, new police officer (in training) treats me with respect, especially when an older mentor tells him or her that he or she will be seeing Arlington Cardinal on many calls; I feel respect, honored and pleased.
When that young, new police officer (now out on their own) again treats me with respect the next time he or she sees me; I feel respect, honored and pleased.
When a police officer accident investigator with MCAT tells me, “Arlington Cardinal (sometimes they just call me Cardinal) … you know your limits, you always respect us,” I feel respect, honored and pleased.
When a police chief recognizes me in the dark shadows just outside major crime scene tape on a cold night in the freezing rain, and walks a press release over to me; I feel respect, honored and pleased.
In every case, I feel respect, honored and pleased because I respect them. And 99% of the time the calls with police involve respect — both ways.
The news is sometimes difficult to document, however. Unfortunately, not all police officers are respectful of the media or citizens. However, in a bad situation, none of us should judge the entire police force because of one bad apple. I certainly don’t. And this is the main message: Do not judge an entire police force because of the bad behavior of one.
Sometimes, it’s just a one time thing and a police officer has had a bad day. I am not concerned about that police officer. I am writing about the police officer that is consistently malicious toward the media and citizens. The one that is likely to give a bad impression that can lead citizens to lump all police officers into a bad category. The one that can lead people to think that all police officers are bad.
Yesterday, at a house fire on Kennicott Avenue, was an example of disrespect and bizarre behavior from an Arlington Heights police officer, Michele Morgan, who has obstructed Arlington Cardinal over many years at many scenes, in a manner that doesn’t match any other police officer anywhere.
First, a little about the past (and these are just a few select incidents) …
I first met Officer Morgan when I called the Arlington Heights police to report a contaminated hypodermic needle on the pavement at a parking space in front of Xsport Fitness. I knew that each police squad carries a kit to properly dispose sharp contaminated needles. It was warm out, and I was concerned that someone barefoot or wearing sandals could get stuck by the contaminated needle. She didn’t seem at all pleased to serve on this call, but grudgingly disposed the needle. I almost felt I had to apologize for bringing the safety hazard to the police department’s attention.
Later, there were several fire scenes where she forced me to back away an unreasonable distance. At two separate scenes, she has ordered me to stand in the path of hazardous smoke, which I refused … so I moved somewhere else. At one fire, she unfortunately and ignorantly positioned her squad car as a roadblock in the path of the smoke plume. Visibility was poor with snow, and it was hazardous because it was harder to see her vehicle in the blowing smoke and snow. But more importantly she placed herself unnecessarily in the path of potentially carcinogenic smoke and particles that could put herself at great risk of cancer or lung disease — for no reason.
On another encounter, a dump truck from a new house construction in my neighborhood ran a stop sign and smashed into a car. I had seen the dump truck speeding back and forth earlier in the day, and I was going to mention it after I walked down to the scene. The police officer was Officer Morgan, and she frowned at me and asked, “Do you have any business here?” I said yes I am with the Arlington Cardinal, and I am concerned about this crash especially because it occurred in my neighborhood. She replied, “Well, just leave.” I backed off, but kept observing. She continued to give me a couple of weird staredowns.
I was surprised by what I saw at the truck vs car crash because of an unsafe action by Officer Morgan. The dump truck and the car were locked together by the crumpled metal. The tow truck driver was attempting to forcibly pull the vehicles apart with equipment available on the tow truck. He couldn’t see from the driver’s seat, but Officer Morgan and the female driver of the sedan approached the vehicles where the vehicles were locked together while this separation was being attempted. This was a very unsafe thing to do, and I was surprised by the lack of safety concerns of the police officer. As the vehicles were separated, it was possible that a sharp piece of metal could fly off one of those vehicles and seriously injure or fatally injure the police officer and/or the female driver of the sedan. I quietly approached the tow truck driver, and basically nodded and pointed to the direction of the unsafe situation. He got out and asked the two women to get away from the vehicles.
When Officer Morgan sees me it’s almost humorous, like a female version of Barney Fife — The Andy Griffith Show character with false bravado that attempts to overshadow many insecurities and lack of self-confidence, and who blows up minor infractions out of proportion. When she sees me approach, Officer Morgan has a habit of shaking her head or making bizarre motions with her arms — almost like a tic — definitely affected in a strange manner, and not like any other police officer.
Sometimes It’s Just Too Hard to Bring the News.
Yesterday was the usual with her. I was attempting to show the excellent work of Arlington Heights firefighters rapidly extinguishing a house fire, but she jumped out of the driver’s seat of her squad car as if I were about to grab a fire hose and start running toward the house to help put out the fire. She asked me to stay a block away from a routine house fire (not routine for the homeowner, of course). I spoke with her about the extreme request, but I was careful to not obstruct any emergency activities that were ongoing. She relented and told me to stand beyond her squad car. But I was already standing beyond her squad car. But she kept telling me to stand beyond her squad car. I kept telling her that I was already standing behind her squad car. She then walked back to her squad car and activated her emergency lights. It was very weird.
Next, a photographer from Journal & Topics appeared. The hard-working photographer approached, and he was also unreasonably obstructed from the scene. It appeared he was asking Officer Morgan if he could walk to the side street and stay back, and it appeared she refused that option. When he approached the area where I was standing, I asked him how it went with Officer Morgan. He replied, “she wasn’t very nice.”
It’s really all about respect. There is no excuse for any police officer to have a consistent disrespect for media or prejudicial attitude against the media. And there is no excuse for any police department not to train their police officers how to respect the media when that respect is inherently lacking in an individual officer.
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Mark Bostrom — a former paramedic and dispatcher for Arlington Heights Fire Department with a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology with a focus on Safety Engineering and Ergonomics from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
^^ MOBILE? USE VOICE MIC ^^
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