In mid-December, Illinois State Police (ISP) Director Larry Trent imposed what amounts to a gag order on state troopers...instructing them not to talk to reporters without prior approval from supervisors.
INBA is calling on Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent to rescind his recently-imposed gag order on the ISP's more than 2,000 troopers.
The edict, handed down in mid-December, orders state troopers not to talk with reporters without prior approval from supervisors.
The order from Trent came on the heels of a WLS-TV investigative report that spotlighted the activities of Governor Blagojevich's ISP bodyguard unit.
In a letter to Director Trent, INBA called on the director to immediately lift the gag order, saying it sends the message that "improprieties and cover-up are acceptable, while full disclosure and whistleblowing are not.
The letter also states that INBA
believes the timing of the order (immediately following the WLS-TV report) "could not be worse"...and, that the order "will have a chilling effect on troopers who see media contact as the only way to expose wrongdoing.
We also remind Trent
that "since his
election in 2002, Governor Blagojevich
has claimed to be a champion of open government.
Your order directly contradicts the governor's claim."
State police spokesman Lincoln Hampton has said the action taken by Trent was not a new order...but, rather, a reinforcement of existing policy.
INBA does not see it that way, nor does Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn, who has also called on Director Trent to lift the order.
Shortly after INBA's letter to Director Trent went public, I received a note from a retired State Police Master Sergeant, whose name I will protect.
said, in part, "Thank you for turning up the heat.
Some of us, who thought we had served honorably, are disgusted by what is going on in the organization today.
If nothing else, your (letter) lets the public see what is coming out of (Springfield)."
As of this writing, INBA has received no response from Director Trent, and there has been no public announcement of any lifting or softening of Trent's order.