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Joliet police urge the public to follow Scott’s Law

The Joliet Police Department is looking to remind the public to follow Scott’s Law.

The law, amended in 2017, is the subject of a plethora of headlines generated throughout the state of Illinois over the last year.

Scott’s Law warns motorists to reduce their speed, move over, and proceed with caution when approaching vehicles that display flashing emergency lights. This includes commercial trucks and cars, police cruisers, ambulances and fire trucks.

“The Joliet Police Department is always looking to inform the public about keeping them and our officers safe,” Joliet police spokesman Chris Botzum said. “Social media is one of our main ways of getting out our message. … Enforcement is another way of informing the public, but we would rather have the public comply with the law then be issued a ticket.”

Scott’s Law became mandated years ago after Lieut. Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver while assisting at a crash on the Dan Ryan Expressway.

“Anytime a person dies while performing their duties it is a tragic loss that affects every law enforcement officer,” Botzum said. “Scott Gillen was a Chicago firefighter who was struck by a passing vehicle at a crash scene in December of 2000. We work so closely with fire personnel that anytime one of their members tragically loses their life, it affects us the same as if we lost one of our family members. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Gillen family.”

The Joliet Police Department has witnessed its own share of violations to the law, officials said.

A 67-year-old female from Minooka was involved in a crash at approximately 12:43 a.m. June 24, 2018.

About that time, officers were assisting a disabled vehicle in the southbound lane of Route 59 with their overhead lights activated to alert other drivers that one lane was blocked.

Officers were not inside the vehicle at the time of the crash, officials said. A vehicle traveling southbound struck the rear of the squad car without slowing down.

“There was significant damage to the front end of the driver’s vehicle and moderate damage to the rear of the squad,” Botzum said.

No one was physically hurt, but the driver was shaken up from the incident and checked out by the Joliet Fire Department, officials said.

Botzum said he could not indicate how often Scott’s Law is violated within the Joliet Police Department’s purview.

“That is hard to say on the frequency, but it unfortunately happens on a fairly regular basis,” he said. “Most violations happen without a crash occurring or a ticket written due to the fact that the emergency personnel are usually addressing another incident (traffic stop, crash investigation, etc.). When we do address it, it is usually from a crash that occurred by them violating the law. This is why it is important for drivers to pay attention and comply with the law so everyone, including other drivers, can get home safely.”

The Joliet Police Department is looking to do its part to deter motorists from violating Scott’s Law.

“The Joliet Police Department has had officers doing targeted DUI and distracted driving enforcement within the city of Joliet and we plan to continue doing so for the foreseeable future,” Botzum said. “We are focusing on these two areas due, in part, to the fact that they are the leading cause of crashes involved in ‘Scott’s Law.’ All of our officers are familiar with the statute and the seriousness of the offense. Anytime one of our officers sees a violation of ‘Scott’s Law,’ they will enforce it to the fullest of their ability.”

Violators of Scott’s Law are subject to pay a fine of up to $10,000. If there is property damage, a person could have their license suspended for up to a year. If a person is injured/killed, a person can have their license suspended for up to two years.