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Pontiac cop on leave after crash, DUI charge while driving unmarked squad car

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PONTIAC -- A 21-year veteran of the Pontiac Police Department and lead investigator assigned to the Livingston County proactive unit has been placed on paid administrative leave after an accident and charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Pontiac Police Chief Dale Newsome said Mike Willis was driving an unmarked police vehicle when he was involved in a single-vehicle accident in Geneva, Wis., at 11:47 p.m. Oct. 4. Neither Willis nor a female passenger was injured, Newsome said, but Geneva police charged Willis with operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Newsome did not know Willis' blood-alcohol content. Geneva Police Chief Steven Hurley said the department doesn't test blood-alcohol content. The charge was based on the fact that Willis failed a field sobriety test, responding officers' observations and details of the accident.

According to police reports, Willis crossed over the median of Highway 50, hit a directional sign and crashed into a ditch.

Hurley said the charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated -- an ordinance violation for the first offense -- carries a $731 citation fine. Willis will be required to go before a judge and if convicted, Hurley said he could lose his driver's license for six to 24 months.

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He also would have to have an alcohol assessment and may be required to take courses, which could shorten the length of time his license is suspended.

Newsome said Pontiac police were notified by Geneva police Wednesday and traveled to Wisconsin to get police reports and the vehicle, which sustained moderate damage.

Newsome said an administrative hearing on Willis will be scheduled later. This is the first time Willis has been on administrative leave, he said.

"The Pontiac Police Department does not condone this type of behavior by members and staff of this department," Newsome said. "This incident is not indicative of the professionalism of the Pontiac Police Department."

Willis was in Wisconsin attending an Illinois public pension conference on behalf of the department, Newsome said.

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