How a video of suburban cops facing a feisty squirrel became a viral hit

 
Updated 1/11/2019 8:17 AM
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  • A squirrel tried to barge its way into the McHenry Police Department -- and got more than 1.1 million views via the police's Facebook video.

    A squirrel tried to barge its way into the McHenry Police Department -- and got more than 1.1 million views via the police's Facebook video.

McHenry police took to Facebook on New Year's Day to post a funny video of an officer's encounter with a feisty squirrel that was bound and determined to barge its way into the police station.

"We figured people here in McHenry would see it and that's about it," Patrick Polidori, the department's public affairs officer, told us this week.

More than 1.1 million views later, the department's got a viral sensation on its hands.

The 47-second clip has been shared by 11,600 Facebook users and received more than 1,400 comments. It's been featured on television stations and online news sites across the country, including People magazine and AccuWeather.

All the national attention has come as a big surprise to members of the department, who thought the clip would draw a few laughs among the locals and go no further.

"It got a lot bigger a lot quicker than we ever expected, but it's all been positive," Polidori said.

The video shows the squirrel in a vestibule situated between doors leading outside and the station's lobby. The furry creature dodges around and climbs the walls as officers try to keep it from making it further inside -- and at times scrambling out of the squirrel's way.

The posting with the video states, tongue firmly in cheek, that it's all a test of the officer's ability to handle disorderly subjects who come to the station.

"If you can handle a squirrel, you can handle, well, we don't know, that's why we're training!" the post reads. "Note, Mr. Squirrel made it out just fine and was not injured. Our officers on the other hand, they are seeking counseling."

Polidori said the squirrel has been a fixture around the station entrance and continues to hang out there -- but it hasn't tried again to make its way inside.

Asked whether the animal should be considered aggressive, Polidori replied, "It's confident."

Judge Ruben Castillo, chief judge of the U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, says the partial shutdown of the federal government could lead to "very problematic" consequences. "The morale of our court workforce suffers when public servants and their livelihoods become hostage to political talks," he said.
Judge Ruben Castillo, chief judge of the U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, says the partial shutdown of the federal government could lead to "very problematic" consequences. "The morale of our court workforce suffers when public servants and their livelihoods become hostage to political talks," he said. - Associated Press, 2013
Shutdown squeeze

Suburbanites called to serve as jurors in U.S. District Court might soon feel the pain of the lingering partial shutdown of the federal government.

Since the shutdown began Dec. 22, the judiciary has been using court fee balances and other "no-year" funds to keep running. But that money is expected to run dry by next Friday.

What's that mean if a deal to reopen the government isn't reached by then? For one, the courts will begin to operate under the Anti-Deficiency Act, meaning that criminal jury trials will continue, but jurors will not be paid. Civil trials already underway also will continue, but no new civil trials will begin.

Court employees will be required to work, but they won't be paid until an appropriations agreement is in place.

"If we reach the point where paychecks are not being issued, the consequences could be very problematic," Chief Judge Ruben Castillo said. "Many court employees live paycheck to paycheck and will be forced to make extremely tough financial decisions to keep their families afloat. The morale of our court workforce suffers when public servants and their livelihoods become hostage to political talks."

What did Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain learn when he spent a night in the county jail last week to explore living conditions there? Lunch and dinner were fine, but the standard breakfast was "horrible."
  What did Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain learn when he spent a night in the county jail last week to explore living conditions there? Lunch and dinner were fine, but the standard breakfast was "horrible." - Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer
Jail log

Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain made a splash last week when he spent the night in his own jail to get a feel for the conditions, including the temperature in the cells and food quality.

What did he learn?

The temperature was fine. And although Hain thought he slept fitfully, guards told him he was out like a light.

Lunch and dinner were OK. The kosher breakfast was satisfactory. But the standard breakfast was "horrible." It consisted of "a slab of something like bologna, and two pieces of dried bread I think were supposed to be coffeecake. It was hard for me to identify them," Hain said.

Before lights out, he met in a common area with two detainees. They discussed the men's plans to open businesses once they got out.

And Hain learned he has to brush up on his chess skills. A detainee bested him.

Hain said he plans to spend one night each month in the jail for the next few months.

10 to avoid in 2019

Here's a year-end list nobody wants to be too familiar with: The Better Business Bureau's Top 10 Scams of 2018.

According to the organization, online purchase scams skyrocketed to the top of the list last year, knocking phishing scams from first to ninth. Online purchase scams involve fake retail websites luring consumers through deeply discounted prices, collecting payment and then never delivering the item sold.

Experts say 1.4 million fake websites are created every month with criminals replacing some of the websites every few hours to avoid detection, according to the BBB.

Next up on the top 10 were employment scams, followed by debt collection fraud, tech support scams and bogus tax collection schemes.

Rounding out the top 10 were utility scams, fake check/money order schemes, counterfeit products, phishing and fraud involving advance fee loans.

A much better top 10 -- the BBB's 10 simple steps to avoid falling victim -- can be found online at www.bbb.org/avoidscams/.

Honor roll

Some hardworking suburban high schoolers were among students recently honored by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart with Commitment to Service Awards for their good deeds in their communities.

The award recognizes students who performed more than 100 volunteer service hours between Sept. 1, 2017, and Aug. 31, 2018. That work is on top of any volunteer or community service performed as a school requirement.

More than 200 students recognized by Dart combined to contribute more than 34,000 hours of community service.

Among the honorees: Lina Al-Tayeb, Ashley Chang, Aarthi Koripelly, Aum Pasawala, Noreen Roshanali, Maya Tanna, Ryan Vetticad and Steven Zhu from Barrington High School; Juhi Soni of Maine West High School; and Toma Stojakovic of Maine South High School.

• Got a tip or thoughts on a cops and crime-related issue to share? Send an email to copsandcrime@dailyherald.com.

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