Illinois Rail Safety Week 2014

There’s a reason every red-blooded American boy wants to be a train conductor or a truck driver: big powerful machines made of iron and steel are cool. Many kids grow out of this stage, the rest either become truck cops, train conductors or truck drivers. It’s no secret the trucking and rail industry do not always see eye-to-eye, but there are times when both industries need to come together for the greater good. One such instance is Illinois Rail Safety Week 2014. The Illinois Truck Enforcement Association is proudly co-sponsoring this event because trucks play a vital role in rail safety. The article this week will explain why.

September 14th-20th, 2014 marks the inaugural year for Illinois Rail Safety Week. The driving force behind the event is the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee, on which several ITEA board members serve as well.

Rail safety may seem rather intuitive, but sadly the numbers prove different. Every year, lives are lost, including those of truckers, for failure to follow simple rules at rail crossings. 

Time is money. The boss wants it done yesterday. The phone is ringing. That train is moving slow. I got plenty of time. Bam. Tragedy…again.

State Law vs Federal Law
There are truck specific laws at both the state and federal level. Those truckers who operate with CDLs need to be concerned with both! While some laws are similar at both levels, others are specific to their own code. Some state law violations may not be in the federal law, but CDL status could be affected anyhow. 

Heavy Equipment
State law requires that any vehicle moving heavy equipment have proper clearance before crossing the railroad tracks. Because much heavy equipment is transported on lowboy trailers, a nine-inch minimum is required before crossing the rails. What is interesting is the definition of “heavy equipment”.

The statute gives several examples: crawler-type tractor, power shovel, derrick or roller. However, it also gives a catchall. If the equipment being operated or moved is designed to travel less than 10mph, the driver must stop the truck between 15 and 50 feet of the crossing to make sure it is clear. 

While most minds will immediately think this statute applies exclusively to oversize/overweight permit loads, it does not say that. What about legal weight skid steers, pavers or excavators? Many of these machines do not exceed 10mph and are moved over trucks.

Permit Loads
Speaking of permit loads, the Illinois Department of Transportation has something to say about this topic in the 2012 Permit Manual. If you are operating on a valid IDOT permit on an IDOT road, you assume all liability if a problem arises because you did not stop and inspect the rail crossing prior to crossing. The permit may very well route you over the tracks, but you are still responsible. A violation of permit citation could be issued.

Passenger Vehicles
Federal law requires all “buses” to stop and look prior to crossing. The Illinois state law is more restrictive. It not only requires all buses, but any second-division vehicle, carrying passengers for-hire, to stop. This includes vehicles designed to carry ten or more people like some stretch limousines, party buses and 15-passenger vans in ride-sharing agreements.

Hazardous Materials
in Part 392.10, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations delineate a host of hazardous materials which would require the driver to stop the vehicle at a rail crossing. The Illinois state law defers to this list as well. The key here is enforcement scope.

The truck actually has to being carrying the material, not just displaying placards. While a local police officer can just as easily look at a placard and compare it to the list, the proof of the violation rests with the presence of the material. Illinois State Police troopers can inspect a commercial vehicle without cause, but local Illinois officers are limited by procedural case law. Just crossing the tracks without stopping, while displaying placards, is not enough for a search.

Shifting Gears
Even with automatic transmissions rapidly gaining popularity in commercial vehicles, the standard transmission is still king. If a truck is of the type which is required to stop at railroad crossings, the driver may not shift gears once the approach to the tracks and has begun. He also cannot shift until the entire vehicle has cleared the tracks. This is for good reason. Even the best drivers sometimes miss gears when shifting. If the trucks stalls on the tracks, bad things could happen.

Illinois needs goods shipped by rail and highway transport, and we need it delivered in one piece by alert drivers. Illinois Rail Safety Week 
2014 is all about both industries and law enforcement working together for safety. 

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Recreational Vehicles

“It’s all about revenue.” “Money money money.” “You guys are only trying to pad the City coffers on the backs of the working man.” These are very common statements heard from the drivers, owners and managers in the trucking industry when police officers write overweight citations. Unfortunately, many times they are spot on. The article this week will discuss a practice in truck enforcement that serves to prove this point: recreational vehicles.

If have been following the Illinois Truce Enforcement Association for any length of time, you probably have quickly learned there is little tolerance for enforcement that strays or bends rules for the sake of revenue. Unlike a basic truck enforcement course offered by another training institution where the instructor opens with a shameful “welcome to revenue 101”, the ITEA is the exact opposite.

Any police department which facilitates a truck enforcement program fueled by moneylust is a disaster waiting to happen. Laws have a purpose, as do fines. The revenue generated by truck enforcement should only be the byproduct of quality police work, not the catalyst for it. 

When a police agency demands or expects officers to perform truck enforcement duties solely to create income, they are encouraging police officers to find creative interpretations of the law. There are dozens of examples of this, but this week recreational vehicles have the spotlight. 

The foundation is simple. Registration and commercial driver’s license are under the regulatory authority of the Illinois Secretary of State. The Illinois General Assembly, for right or wrong, creates statutes which the SOS must enforce. Where the statute is silent to procedure, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) fills in the gap.

Truck registration in Illinois is expensive. There’s no doubt about it. Given the high price, there is incentive for truck owners to try and cheat the system to purchase registration of a lower price. This is the case with RV plates.

Many second division vehicles are RVs. In those times when the trucks are indeed RVs, they may be appropriately plated as such for a substantially lower fee. In the times when the truck is not an RV, they must secure the exponentially higher base plate fee.

The problem police officers run into is when they try to ascertain who is cheating and who is not. The police officer who focuses on the purpose of the truck quickly finds he may very well be stepping on the authoritative toes of the SOS. 

The purpose for the truck being used as RV, whether lawfully or unlawfully, is incredibly complex and quite subjective. To say there are perfect, clean cut rules to this topic is faulty thinking. 

The reason police officers will attempt to use creative interpretation of statutes in regards to determining RV purpose harkens back to first few paragraphs of this article. Follow these breadcrumbs: 
•   If the truck officer believes there is cheating going on, then he can say the truck is improperly registered as an RV. 
•   If the truck is improperly registered as an RV, then it needs flat weight truck plates. 
•   If the truck needs flat weight truck plates and it does not have them, then an overweight on registration citation may be issued. 

Cha-ching.

The most common rationalization an officer uses to make this determination is that the RV is being operated for business purposes. This is correct in simplistic terms…a business may not use RV plates to circumvent regular truck registration or exercise a CDL exemption.

The creative, moneylusting police officer will attempt to find easy rationalizations to make the RV operation a business purpose. However there is no easy way to do this. It takes an extreme amount of investigation into tax filings and other regulatory paperwork to make a proper determination. The work required far exceeds what a patrol officer can accomplish on a traffic stop.

What’s worse is the police officer who detains a driver far beyond customary traffic stop time limits, set by the United States Supreme Court, to play Elliot Ness. What’s even more disconcerting is the police officer who employs his own low-standard rules and issues the citation, leaving the driver to prove his innocence in court.

This is bad police work. The burden of proof is on the officer. If the officer cannot rightly meet his lawful burden, he must send the vehicle on its way and continue his investigation. There are other administrative ways to bring the registration or CDL cheat to justice. 

To counter this problematic enforcement, the ITEA recently ratified a Standard of Practice (SOP 38) to provide guidance to our member police officers. 

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CDL Arrest Policy

On the road to maturity as a police officer, one quickly learns to quit taking things personally. Some take longer than others, but the sooner a police officer learns to judge the actions of a violator and not the actor himself, the easier life becomes. The reality is sometimes mistakes are made, but sometimes the consequences exceed the reasonableness of the offense. This can readily be seen in commercial driver’s license violations. The ITEA has a solution though…read on!

Earlier this year, under federal mandate, the Illinois Secretary of State began canceling CDLs for those who had not complied with the medical merge process. No fault can be attributed to SOS. Illinois went above and beyond the call of duty.

In the end, Illinois had one of the earliest and highest compliance rates in the nation because of this effort. Even still, just under 20,000 Illinois CDL holders still had their CDL cancelled for not certifying. Many of these CDL holders probably were not using their CDL anymore, but many probably just did not get it done.

There’s another wrinkle to this issue. Of the 400,000+ CDL holders in Illinois, 46% are certified as non-excepted interstate (NI). This means they had to submit a valid medical card at the time of certification. As interstate certified drivers, they are required to provide the SOS a new, and valid, medical card every two years before the date it expires. If not, the CDL will be cancelled.

Just to add some more regulation to the process, as of May 21st, 2014 all driver physicals have to go through a specific set of doctors called “the registry”. No more “doc-in-the-box” offices writing out bogus medical cards for obviously unfit drivers. While the number of qualified doctors has surprisingly met expectations, it will still slow down the ability for CDL holders to get their physicals done in time.

Once the CDL is cancelled for any of these reasons, the driver has thirty days and then the CDL will cease to exist. The driver will have to start from scratch to obtain a new CDL. Permit tests, pre-trip inspections, skills course and road course…just like he never had a CDL in the first place.

The medical merge regulation is just one way to be in violation of CDL laws. How about these situations?
•   With the new CDL criterion, the driver who did not need a CDL June 30th based on GVWR may need one simply because he weighed one pound more on the scale July 1st.
•   The driver who did not know about a new regulation which says the aggregate total of 119 gallon tanks exceeding 1000 gallons needs a tanker endorsement.
•   The driver who received bad CDL advice from a police officer who was trained in an unauthoritative truck enforcement class, is now stopped by a well-trained police officer.

All that to say this: there’s a lot of new ways to have your CDL yanked for nothing but paperwork issues. There’s also a lot of ways to be in violation of a CDL. Yes, the medical merge process is important to weed out medically unfit drivers. Yes, the responsibility to be compliant with all rules and regulations falls on the CDL holder themselves.

However, many good drivers may lose or have their CDL cancelled solely because relatively minor issues, not necessarily because they are unqualified drivers. If the CDL is their livelihood, they will continue to drive regardless. Others will continue to drive, ignorant to the complexities of CDL law. And yes, that is on them too.

The question is not whether or not the operator should be held accountable for the decision to drive without the CDL when required, the question is whether or not the penalties for all CDL violations fit the crime. As mentioned in previous blog posts, driving without the proper CDL when required is a Class-A misdemeanor. Outside the various state police agencies, the vast majority of local police departments require misdemeanor traffic arrests to be custodial.

Handcuffs. Towed trucks (exponentially more expensive than towed cars). Fingerprints. Mug shots. FBI and state ID numbers. Maximum one year in jail. Maximum fine $2500.

As an alternative, local police agencies could adopt a model policy brought forth by the ITEA last month which provides police officers discretion. A model policy which allows police officers to still do their job, but not make a custodial arrest of every CDL violator. A model policy which attempts to harmonize state and local methodologies. A model policy already adopted by many ITEA member police agencies.

Click HERE to download ITEA Resolution 2014-02. Police officers, start the conversation with your administration. Truckers, make the phone call to your local police agency and respectfully demand they adopt a policy which allows for non-custodial arrests of CDL violators.

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Harmonization

The majesty of music is hearing multiple layers of sound working together. Each person in a choir is an individual singing something unique. Their voice is not the exactly the same as the other vocalists, their line of music is not the same, but it all comes together to make something beautiful. Lest you think the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association is getting soft, harmonization between units of government is a national issue for the specialized transportation, and this article will explain how the ITEA is supporting the effort.

Imagine this: you are a heavy hauler domiciled on the east coast. An energy company in California hires you to transport a massive generator from the Port of Baltimore in Maryland to Los Angeles. Months are spent planning. Route surveys, permit procurement, escort vehicles, utility relocation, police protection…the list goes on and on. It’s a massive process, and expensive too.

Just when you think you got it all figured out, one the states you are going to pass through (let’s just say Illinois) reports there is problem with the route crossing an overpass. You are informed the move will have to be diverted onto local roads involving one county and four municipalities.

Your transportation world just imploded. Other than the hassle of obtaining the local permits, each individual locale has their own specific rules and provisions about lighting, signs, escorts, and times of day. What may be customary and industry standard at the state level does not jive at the local level.

There is no harmony. All the voices are working against each other. The only tune being sung is utter discontent for bureaucracy.

Make no mistake, harmonization is not just about local government, it’s about state government as well. Rules for oversize/overweight (OSOW) moves vary between each state, each county, each township and each municipality. 

In Illinois, the Illinois Department of Transportation is the permit authority for all state highways, sans the tollways. Their rules and regulations have been most replicated by local government in Illinois, but this not a universal trait. Many locals have created their own set of rules which do not harmonize with IDOT. 

Several years ago, the American Association for State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) began studying this issue in depth. AASHTO represents the state departments of transportation for all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington DC. 

In 2012, the subcommittee on highway transport, and all 52 members, passed a resolution committing to harmonization based on five permit categories: escort requirements, warning flags, warning lights, warning signs and, days/hours of operation. This was called Phase I. In March 2014, the subcommittee released the results of their Phase II study.

Phase II explored all the different rules and regulations between the states, and identified the minimum requirements. For instance, let’s say 10 states required escort vehicles over 12,000 pounds GVWR, 38 states required escort vehicles over 10,000 pounds, and 4 states required escort vehicles over 8,000 pounds. The 10,000 pound escort vehicle would become the minimum standard, meaning four states would need to come into harmony by passing rules or legislations to do so.

This is no easy task though. Legislation and administrative rulemaking is an intensely political issue. Change has to begin somewhere, and AASHTO is taking the lead role creating model policy for the states to follow.

The problem is the final mile. Even if all 52 member AASHTO jurisdictions come into perfect harmony, there is no mandate for local government to do so. Even in a day where consolidation of local government is becoming a buzzword, Illinois is decades away from ever seeing real change. Until then, it will be a battle to harmonize over 3,000 units of local government with highway jurisdiction. 

Like AASHTO at the national level, the ITEA has agreed to champion this cause for local government in Illinois. Last month, the ITEA Board of Directors voted to pass Resolution 2014-01 encouraging local government to adopt the minimum Phase II standards for their local permits.

For our police members whose towns or counties offer OS/OW permits, step up and begin the conversation to meet these standards in your local town. For our industry members, pick up the phone and start respectfully demanding them to do so. 

It’s no secret Illinois is one of the most unfriendly states to good business. Permit harmonization is a small measure all those involved in Illinois transportation can take to start improving that reputation. On July 14-17, the SCOHT is meeting for their annual conference in Philadelphia. Let’s give them a shock that Illinois is doing something right.

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A Tale of Two Phone Calls: Part 2

Is the goal of truck enforcement to protect the public and infrastructure from unsafe vehicles, or is it simply a revenue generator for local government? This is a never ending debate, but there is one truth which no one can argue: high fines are (or at least should be) a deterrent to carriers to operate illegally. Conversely, high fines should also motivate police officers to make sure their enforcement is above board at all times. When police officers take shortcuts in order to rake in a massive overweight ticket fine, it justifies the argument that enforcement is only about revenue. Read on to learn how one ITEA police officer did the exact opposite.

Last week, the blog article told the story of a phone call which came to the ITEA about a police officer who made a critical enforcement error. A $41,000 error which could easily have been avoided had the officer been a member of the ITEA and utilized the resources available to him. This week the story of a second phone call will be told. The two phone calls were very similar in content, but with very different outcomes.

Phone Call #2 – March 2014
On a cold Friday afternoon at about 4:30pm, the phone rang. On the other end was a certified ITEA member police officer who had stopped an off-route, overweight permit load. Much like the previous story, this officer had the carrier dead to rights.

The driver had been operating on his assigned state permit route when he turned left instead of right. He continued on a state highway for nearly seven miles off-route before he was stopped by the ITEA officer.

Similar to the officer in Phone Call #1, weighing the truck was going to be a challenge, but this officer knew there were only two choices. Either find a method to weigh it lawfully, or let it go. Because this officer was a certified member of the ITEA, he had learned what not to do in these situations.

To further complicate the situation, this eleven-axle vehicle was permitted for 196,000 pounds. There was no place to turn the vehicle around to get to a nearby scale. The IDOT permit office was nearly closed for the weekend, and the officer knew better than to risk moving the vehicle without authoritative route review. The Friday afternoon rush hour had begun. Snow was on the way. The officer did not have access to his portable scales because like many other ITEA officers, his portable scales were in a trailer bound for annual recertification in Springfield.

The officer called the ITEA looking for help. After some quick planning, the IDOT permit office was contacted at the last minute and superload routing was approved to a state scale twenty miles away.

An off-duty ITEA member police officer with access to the scale, was called to help. He responded from home to assist his fellow ITEA member. After the truck was weighed, it was determined the fine would total $37,000.

If you are in trucking, you may very well be thinking this is still a hose-job. However, the real question is which kind of enforcement would you rather have? Enforcement that is well-trained, resourced and lawful, or enforcement that is violates the simplest tenants of the law in order to make a quick buck?

If in your mind enforcement is only about the fine money, then there is no reason to finish reading the story. The officer, in this case, gave the driver a recognizance bond (signature, not cash) for the full amount. He had the full authority of the law to make the driver or carrier post the $37,000 cash bail, but he chose not to.

After weighing, the officer was able to park the vehicle in a safe place off the road to wait out the oncoming inclement weather. Even if the officer had chosen to not weigh the truck at all, the approaching darkness would have prevented the vehicle from reaching its destination that night.

On behalf of the member police officer, the ITEA contacted the carrier to let them know what was going on. The circumstances of the stop, weighing and disposition were explained in detail. This gave the carrier the opportunity to start working on new permits to get the truck to its final destination the next business day.

No one was happy about the circumstances or the high fine, but the carrier was appreciative of the professional way things were handled. They thanked the officer for his discretion and wise decision making choices. There will still be a price tag for the error, but the officer pledged to work with the carrier on a fine reduction.

In the end, the law was upheld, the job got done, the carrier was treated well, and professionalism abounded on both sides. This is a better way to do police work.

Which phone call do you want to answer?

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A Tale of Two Phone Calls: Part 1

Everyone loves a coincidence! When two independent events mimic each other completely in their own universe, it brings a smile to people’s faces. That is unless the circumstances are not positive. The article this week will discuss two very similar situations which happened recently in Illinois truck enforcement.  Coincidental in scope, yet with very different outcomes.

The ITEA works hard to bring balance between professional truck enforcement and profitable industry. The people demand protective enforcement. The industry demands fair and quality enforcement. Regardless of political and social views, police work is here to stay. Qualify polcing, if you must, as necessary or unnecessary, evil or good, but the police are not going away anytime soon. The goal is to make sure all enforcement, favorable or unfavorable, is done with excellence.

Phone Call #1 – October 2013
The ITEA receives a call regarding an overweight citation that has been received by a heavy hauler. In this incident, the truck was on a county road and did not have a county permit. Weighing in excess of 190,000 pounds gross weight, the police officer had the driver dead to rights. All that needed to happen was to weigh the vehicle pursuant to the law, sometimes easier said than done with large and heavy vehicles like this one.

The Illinois Vehicle Code mandates if a police officer has reason to believe a vehicle is overweight, he “shall” weigh it on a scale(s). This did not happen. There’s no doubt an 11-axle, 190,000 pound load simply cannot be driven over any scale. It takes either a high capacity fixed scale or many portable wheel load weigher scales in order to lawfully weigh this combination.

The ITEA has these resources at its disposal, but the officer (who is not a member of the ITEA) did not utilize them. It was mid-morning in the middle of the week. There were a lot of options available.

Instead, the officer took the shortcut. He chose to not weigh the vehicle and based his evidence from a private scale weigh ticket the driver handed him from the day before. Total fine? $41,000.

The weigh ticket reflected a scale reading which was not witnessed by the officer, also known as hearsay evidence. Unfortunately, there has been (ill-advised) instruction by a leader in law enforcement that in situations like these, it’s ok to not follow the plain language of the law and use whatever means are available. 

To think law enforcement leadership would advocate such a blatant abrogation of constitutional rights to issue an overweight citation should consternate us all. So wrong in fact the very first Standard of Practice (SOP-01) written by the ITEA nearly four years ago spoke to this very topic. The end does not justify the means, no matter how wrong this truck driver was by operating overweight without the correct permit.

The carrier cited contacted a local trucking association, who in turn referred the case to an attorney. A nearly five-month court process ensued with the officer losing the citation in court during a stipulated bench trial. Why? Because the officer did not follow the law.

What good came of this? Well, if you are the carrier, you just successfully beat a $41,000 citation! How much did the attorney cost? How much lost time and wages were spent fighting the ticket in court? The reality is the highest fine was avoided, but poor enforcement methods still cost the carrier a lot of money.

Some police officers may say that is just desserts. Hey – they did wrong and they had to pay something, so be it. It is attitudes like this which have led to decades of scrutiny of the police. It is never appropriate for the police to take improper enforcement action (under the color of law), based on the perceived rights and wrongs of the actor. Never. If the case can be proven with the best, legitimate evidence, prosecute it. If the case cannot be made, let it go.

Had this officer been a member of the ITEA, things could have gone a lot better. Want to hear how? Check back in next week to hear about phone call #2.

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Exemplary Police Work #4

There are vicious rumors floating around about Illinois. Once such rumor is that truck registration in the Land of Lincoln is super expensive…way more expensive than surrounding states. Is this true? Well, unfortunately, yes. The purpose of this article is not to argue the rights and wrongs of registration pricing, but to show why solid enforcement of registration laws by solid police officers makes a world difference on how the trucking industry perceives the police.

Registration is a tax plain and simple. Make no bones about. When it comes to trucks and trailers (aka “second division vehicles”), the tax is proportionate to the amount of weight to be carried on the vehicle.

Because Illinois sells expensive registration for trucks and trailers, sometimes trucking companies domiciled in other states (aka “foreign states”) choose to operate within Illinois without paying a tax to Illinois. Do trucking companies do this on purpose? Most likely some do. Do some screw up and work within Illinois on foreign plates by accident? Probably. If a truck is making an intrastate move, meaning the load (not the truck itself) has a point of origin and a destination within Illinois, a tax must be paid. As always, there are some exceptions to this requirement.

Many blog posts could be spent discussing the finer point of intrastate registration requirements, but the ITEA has several resource documents and Standards of Practice available for our members to review. Even if the law is the law, police officers always have the right to use discretion, which brings us to the story being told today.

On a cold night this past January, an ITEA certified police officer was out patrolling when he noticed a truck bearing foreign registration. After making a lawful traffic stop based on probable cause (not solely because the truck had foreign plates), the officer spoke with the driver and determined the vehicle was making an intrastate move.

Based on this evidence, the officer had him dead to rights. He had all authority to weigh the truck and issue an overweight on registration citation. The fine for the ticket would have been cost of the license plate necessary to cover the gross weight of the truck. It would have been quite expensive.

Even though this officer had been certified after attending the ITEA Advanced Truck Officer class, he had never dealt with this issue before. He was trained in it, but because truck law is so voluminous and complicated, he did not know if he was on sure footing.

A lesser officer would have weighed the truck, written the ticket and hoped for the best in court…but not this officer. What he had learned through his instruction with the ITEA that is it better to take no enforcement action at all than to take bad enforcement action. It is better to make an informed decision than to make a wrong one.

So that is what he did. He cut the driver loose and gave up a legitimate overweight. The decision to let the driver go and then do his homework was a mature decision. Afterwards, he looked up the ITEA Standards of Practice that speak to this issue. He went on the ITEA member discussion forum and found some similar incidents in other towns. He emailed the ITEA and was connected with the resident expert on all things registration.

The ITEA is proud of this officer. So proud a letter was sent to his Chief explaining he had a quality truck officer in his ranks! He let a big fish go, but there are more fish in the sea. It is not the job of the police to write questionable tickets and then let the courts and a judge sort them out.

On April 10th, 2014, the ITEA is hosting it’s 8-hour Certification class for truck officers. The goal is to raise up more industry conscientious officers like this one.

If you are truck officer not yet certified by the ITEA, this is your chance to show your quality. It’s free for members. Membership is $25.

If you are trucker or trucking company official, make the phone calls and respectfully demand your local truck officers attend this class. Put your mouth where your money is.

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The Glenn Strebel Award

When the ten original members of the ITEA began this Association in October 2009, no one expected to see all the progress that has been achieved. The goal was simple – make better truck enforcement officers. Six foundational statements were identified to accomplish the goal: safe roads, one voice, partnership, uniformity, resource and legislation. These ideals were set up to pave the highway leading police officers to a higher level of enforcement quality and to show the trucking industry there was a better way. It was not without purpose. A month earlier, Illinois lost a great truck officer named Glenn Strebel.

Glenn Strebel served on the Barrington Fire Department for many years and rose to the rank of Lieutenant.  As a single father, he began to look for ways to supplement his income. Glenn worked his way through the part-time police academy and received his police officer certification and began looking for a part-time career in law enforcement. Eventually, Glenn was hired on the East Dundee Police Department, a small agency in Kane County along the Fox River. It was during this brief tenure from 2006-2009 that Glenn developed an interest in truck enforcement.

For those who knew Glenn, he was the “great guy”. Great attitude. Great heart. Loved his job, his family and wanted to excel in all he did. After his retirement from the Barrington Fire Department, Glenn ran for public office in Barrington where he lived. He wanted to make a difference. Glenn had worked spent a career in public service and had seen it from street. It was time to move up to the front office.

Even though there was no formal association of truck officers at that point, Glenn worked hard to network with other truck officers from nearby communities. He setup roadblocks with the Illinois State Police and IDOT and invited others to come help. He offered to help other truck officers with their roadblocks. The goal was never to assist in the effort to write more tickets, but to learn. He always asked the right questions.

Glenn understood that exposure around commercial vehicles yields more knowledge. He was old enough and wise enough to realize the police, even truck enforcement officers, are paid to serve. No one is being served if he as a police officer is wasting the trucker’s time and the taxpayer’s dime with frivolous enforcement.

Glenn knew it was better to let a wrong truck go when he was unsure of complicated truck laws . He knew it was his job was to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. It was not his job to make a best guess, take a load of money from the trucker and leave them to defend themselves in court. It was better to release a driver and find his evidence, and maybe later write the ticket if need be. He was quality.

Unfortunately, Glenn suffered from a very rare form of cancer. At the young age of 42, his life was cut short. Had Glenn survived, the original ten members of the ITEA would have been eleven. The ITEA is exactly what Glenn would have wanted. He would have served selflessly to lead it. He had an exceptional authority, and he demanded exceptional accountability.

It’s for police officers like Glenn the ITEA was conceptualized. Because of his character, the leadership of the ITEA felt it necessary to seek out and award a police officer each year who models his traits.

The 2014 Glenn Strebel Award will be announced at the 4th Annual ITEA Conference on January 7th, 2015. This is not a “tickets for toasters” award. He who writes the most tickets does not win, nor does the police officer who writes the overweight with the highest fine. Glenn would want to see his name ascribed to an award for the police officer who puts service ahead of self.

The ITEA will accept nominations all year from any police officer, member of the trucking community, local government leader or private citizen. The ITEA Board of Directors (who are not eligible) will look not only at well-rounded enforcement activity, but education efforts and advocacy for their local trucking industry. A litany of prizes will await the winner.

The goal is to do right….right by the reputation of law enforcement. Right by the vital need for a profitable trucking industry in Illinois. Right by the protection of people and property. This is what Glenn would have called for.

To learn more about the Glenn Strebel Award and to nominate an officer, please click HERE

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2014 – A Year in Preview

It’s the end of the year as Illinois knows it, and you feel <insert emotion/illness/expletive>. Usually at this time every website, magazine, radio station and special interest group is listing their year in review. No doubt a lot has happened in 2013 with the ITEA…it’s been a banner year for sure. In the spirit of 2014 being the year of distracted driving reform, 2013 is in the rearview. The ITEA is eyes forward and hammer down, trucking hard into 2014. Here are some previews of what is to come in the new year for the ITEA.

3rd Annual Truck Officer Conference
Hard to believe this event is already less than two weeks away!  While there are still some seats available for January 8th, it looks to be a standing room only show.  Some new faces will be presenting from the Illinois State Police, Illinois Department of Revenue and our keynote speaker from Diamondback Specialized CMV Training in North Carolina. There will be truckload of new material to learn. Stand and be counted among the best and most informed…it’s only $50 for ITEA member police officers and $75 for non-ITEA police officers. You can register with the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy by clicking HERE

More prizes in the charity raffle. More free raffle prizes. Chik-fil-A for lunch (we heard your complaints from last year).  And donuts from Spunky Dunkers in Palatine (again, we listened). Your brain and your belly will leave full.

Trade Shows
The ITEA is glad to partner with our friends in the trucking industry. There is no better way to get the message of the ITEA out to the industry than meeting them face-to-face on their turf.  In 2014, the ITEA will travel to two previously attended trade shows, and adding a new one. Free t-shirts and raffles for new electronics will be available at all the shows!

  • Mid-west Truck & Trailer Show – This annual event will be held January 31st-February 1st in Peoria. For more than 50 years the Mid-west Truckers Association has held this event.  The ITEA will even have a semi-truck in the Pinewood Derby!
  • iLandscape – This show has been rebranded and is moving from Navy Pier to the Schaumburg Convention Center February 5th-7th.  It’s been sold out for months now. There is no bigger event for landscapers in the tri-state area than this event.
  • Illinois Truck Association Expo – This will be the first time for the ITEA to attend this event in Oak Brook, IL from September 25th-27th. We are excited to continue and grow a relationship with the ITA and their membership.

40-Hour Basic Truck Enforcement
In keeping with our mission to provide the highest quality truck enforcement training to local law enforcement in Illinois, the ITEA will be offering two 40-hour Basic Truck Enforcement classes this spring instead of just one. Both classes are eligible for 50% re-imbursement from the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, bringing the grand total to under $200! There is no training of this caliber for that low of a price in Illinois.

  • April 14th-18th. The show is going on the road. Thanks to our members from the O’Fallon Police Department, we will be hosting this training for police officers in the metro-St. Louis region.
  • April 28th-May 2nd.  This week the class will be held at the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy at the College of DuPage.

Awards
Glenn Strebel Award – The ITEA believes in recognition of truck officers who go beyond minimum performance to do an exceptional job. More about this award will be discussed at the Truck Officer Conference on January 8th, but in 2014 all eyes from the police and trucking communities will be looking for the officer who will receive this award at the Truck Officer Conference in January 2015.

Chapters
This fall, the ITEA launched its first two Chapters in McHenry and DuPage Counties. In the first quarter of 2014, the ITEA plans to launch Chapters in Cook County (north & south), DeKalb/Kane, Boone/Winnebago and Will County.  These Chapters serve as regional points of contact and resource for both the truck officers who work in those counties, and the truckers who service those areas.  The benefits of the first two Chapters are being plainly seen. Do not miss your opportunity to get involved.

This is list of things to come in 2014 barely scratches the surface. New Standards of Practice and Resource Documents are being produced. If the IRS ever gets back to work, the ITEA will become a 501(c)(3). There will be two 8-hour ITEA certification classes (spring & fall) and the annual online test in June. More online tests & quizzes. The 40-hour Advanced Truck Officer class will return in the fall.

Keep your eyes peeled…there are always something in the works at the ITEA. Hear it here first!

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Advanced Truck Enforcement Officer

You don’t have to like the President, but you would have to agree that he probably makes decisions based on volumes of information not privy to the common citizen. You don’t have to like your boss, but you would have to agree that he probably is answering to a lot of people and sees things from a totally different perspective than you. Ultimately both of these people may make poor decisions, but hopefully it is not because of a lack of knowledge. In truck enforcement, there is a whole lot of knowledge to be learned. What has become readily apparent is those who consciously seek out the best, authoritative information make the best decisions that protect the public and are fair to industry. The ITEA is going to elevate truck enforcement quality through increased knowledge at its new 40-hour Advanced Truck Enforcement Officer class the week of October 21st. Here’s why…

Truck law in Illinois, and nationwide for that matter, is immensely complex. The sheer variety of trucks, trailers, commodities, materials and industries dependent upon surface transportation is gigantic. There was once a static law, but over time it has been modified and excepted time and time again to accommodate the nuances. This is all for good reason, but it does not mean knowledge is easy.

The Illinois Vehicle Code has nearly 80 pages of truck law. The printed edition of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations has over 600 pages. The Illinois Administrative Code is impossible to count as there is no official printed copy…it’s so big it’s online only. Then every municipality, township and county has unique ordinances regulating trucking. The reality is no one man can wrap his head around all of this.

Truck enforcement education has created three tiers of police officers. The first is those who receive basic training and do little or no enforcement afterwards. Armed with a little knowledge and a lot of authority, these are the ones who make the costliest mistakes. Unfortunately, this group represents the bulk of police officers who receive basic truck enforcement training.

The second group of officers receives basic training and participates in truck enforcement for a longer period of time, but they are unable to dedicate themselves to truck enforcement because of other responsibilities. This group makes up the bulk of the ITEA membership. Truck law is perishable knowledge and the ITEA seeks to resource and train this group in real time and on a continual basis.

The third group starts with basic training and becomes dedicated, full-time truck enforcement officers for many years. This group represents a smaller portion of the ITEA, but the ranks are growing. The purpose of the Advanced Truck Enforcement Officer class is to encourage police officers to maximize their talents and reach their full potential.

Does this mean officers who are attending this class are learning new and sophisticated ways to stick it to the trucking industry? The answer is a resounding no. In fact, the exact opposite is true.

Knowledge is power, and the more knowledge a police officer has about trucking, the better he can enforce it. That knowledge produces quality police work. The more an officer understands the industry, the more he can appreciate the compliance hurdles the industry must jump over. That knowledge produces compassionate police work. The more diversified training the officer receives, the more uniform his enforcement becomes. That knowledge produces well-rounded police work.

The best, highest quality, most fair and uniform enforcement comes when police officers are invested in the knowledge of trucking. The model for local truck enforcement training the last 30 years has been to briefly train them on the basics of weight law and kick them out the door. Oh sure they can come back one day for a “refresher” class, but that provides nothing but review. Shouldn’t the goal be to move the ball down the field instead of looking in the rearview mirror?

Knowledge comes in layers. Basic training. Networking with other officers. Accountability. Elective certification. Authoritative resources. Open forum for discussion. Industry interaction and partnership. Annual conferences. Specialized training. And now this…advanced training.

The Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board has approved this class. It’s available for 50% reimbursement ($200) and is limited to fifteen officers. A great prophet once said that his people “were destroyed for a lack of knowledge”. Let that not be said of these two great professions working together.

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