WASHINGTON — The top prosecutor in Tazewell County says he expects to complete his review of allegations that a high-ranking member of the East Peoria Police Department obstructed justice during a traffic stop here.
But until then, State's Attorney Stu Umholtz said he'll have no comment on the case of Chad Lacost, the deputy chief of police in East Peoria, who is currently on paid leave while his department investigates what happened on Nov. 23 in the 1000 block of School Street.
The Washington Police Department has sent a citation for obstructing police for Umholtz and his staff to review following the traffic stop where Lacost allegedly failed to cooperate with officers. He is on paid administrative leave pending a departmental review as well as the review by Umholtz, said his boss, East Peoria police Chief Steve Roegge.
Lacost, who heads the day-to-day operations of the department and who has more than 20 years on the force, was behind the wheel of a 2015 Jeep Cherokee when a Washington police officer clocked his vehicle going at least 50 mph in a 40 mph zone while he was in the 2200 block of Washington Road, according to a report filed at the Washington Police Department. The SUV failed to signal and crossed over the center line. That led the officer to pull the Jeep over on School Street. Lacost told the officer he was a police officer with East Peoria.
At first, the officer noted in his report, Lacost cooperated, but once the officer asked him to step out of his Jeep, Lacost allegedly said, "seriously." The officer wrote in his report that he was concerned about Lacost's driving and noted he had glassy eyes and slurred speech. He then asked how much Lacost had had to drink that night. Lacost said "several beers." The officer asked that he get out of the Jeep again. Lacost allegedly said he was "perfectly good right here," refusing to get out.
The officer is heard on the dashboard camera video saying he's upset that he has to be put in this situation, noting that "in the profession we are in, we should be held to higher standards."
Lacost said he was talking to his wife and he was distracted.
"I know you are who you are, but it's unfortunate I'm put into this situation. And you would feel the same way if you were put into this situation," the officer told Lacost.
Lacost, 49, then asked to speak to a sergeant on duty. Sergeants are typically supervisors on a shift and of a higher rank than a patrol officer. One showed up and tried again to get Lacost out of the Jeep. Lacost refused.
At some point, Lacost admitted he was at a bar and had a drink. He repeatedly asked the officers to follow him home, which they refused to do.
Only when his boss, Roegge, called him on the phone, did he get out of the vehicle.
Roegge arrived a short time later and then drove him home. No field sobriety tests were done, but an officer can't legally make a person take such a test.
In the report, Roegge is quoted as saying to the Washington officers that what happened was up to them.
"In this case here, I am assisting you. I want to make it clear that if you have to go down a road, then you have to go down. I'm here to resolve," Roegge is heard saying on the video near the end of the hourlong incident.
Lacost was cited for speeding, a petty offense, and also obstruction, which is a criminal offense. He has a court date for late January, but that could change, depending upon what Umholtz does.
Andy Kravetz can be reached at 686-3283 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @andykravetz.