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DENISE CROSBY: Drug bust brings ‘mixed emotions’ for good cops

William Floyd Marsh Jr. | Supplied phofrom Kane County Sheriff's Department

William Floyd Marsh, Jr. | Supplied photo from Kane County Sheriff's Department

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Updated: March 20, 2014 6:30AM



Note to bad guys running drugs into Chicago: Don’t speed going through Kane County.

Don’t do any illegal lane changing either.

And you really better mind your driving P’s and Q’s if Sgt. Ron Hain is on patrol.

That’s because the 36-year-old Kane County sheriff’s deputy wrote the book on detecting drug trafficking … literally.

And the cop can smell something rotten in Kane County from a few lanes over.

Just ask William Floyd Marsh Jr.

But first you have to get permission from the commander of the Kane County Jail to chat with him from his cell.

That’s where Marsh has been sitting since Thursday when he got busted for possessing 55 pounds of high grade pot after Hain pulled him over for speeding in a construction zone on Interstate 90 near Route 47.

The bust itself, in Hampshire Township, was not itself a huge headline grabber, even though the weed had a street value of $750,000 according to police. No, this arrest was nothing like Hain’s 2011 bust on I-90 in Elgin that netted $2 million worth of heroin, the largest in Kane County history.

What made last week’s arrest so interesting is that 56-year-old Marsh Jr. is a retired detective from the state of Oregon, who flashed his badge in an effort to convince Hain to give a pass and let him be on his merry way.

Hain readily admits he’s allowed lots of speeders do just that. In a 2012 interview he told me that, of the 400 or so traffic stops he makes a year, he’ll let 90 percent go with a warning because he’s looking for the 10 percent who have something to hide.

Like, perhaps, retired Det. William Floyd Marsh Jr.?

It’s training and gut instincts and something even more intangible, officials tell me when I ask about Hain’s impressive track record. “Some guys have that ability to immediately sense something is not what it seems,” said Kane County Lt. Pat Gengler. “It’s inconsistencies, it’s the way the guy is talking, reacting … that makes an officer think there is more to this” than a routine traffic stop.

“These things don’t happen by accident,” the lieutenant added. “Ron has a knack for targeting drug traffickers.”

And he’s determined to help other officers develop that same knack. In 2012, Hain released a book he wrote, “In Roads: A Working Solution to America’s War on Drugs,” that explains how police at all levels need to be more vigilant in drug detection. He also created an online database to help police officers across many jurisdictions “connect the dots” when it comes to tracking the bad guys’ drug activities. Hain was out of town and not available to comment for this column, but the website, said Gengler, has since been rolled into a national law enforcement site called DesertSnow.com.

Hain, who believes drugs are at the root of most crime, spends much of his time patrolling the east-west roads through the county because it’s a huge corridor into Chicago for drug trafficking.

According to police, around 11 a.m. Thursday, after stopping Marsh in his 2007 Dodge Ram truck, Hain immediately called for backup from Kane County’s drug interdiction unit. Marsh informed the deputies he was armed, and as officers talked to him, their suspicions deepened. In addition to carrying a handgun, Marsh had another gun in the car, according to the report. And police found $80,000 hidden in two boxes in the bed of the truck.

Later in the investigation, police said, 55 pounds of cannabis and a couple thousand dollars were located at storage units in Palatine and Chicago.

While Kane County deputies certainly celebrate taking drugs off the street, when the person who is nailed for trafficking them is a retired cop, the bust, noted Gengler, “brings mixed emotions.”

Police officers crossing the line is hardly unusual: Look at the Chicago-area headlines lately, in particular the gruesome details coming out of the Steven Mandell trial. But “it’s always a negative reflection on all the good guys trying to serve and protect,” said the lieutenant.

Marsh , who faces a bunch of felony counts, including armed violence, drug trafficking, delivery and possession, will appear in court Friday. According to a news report from the Oregonian, the former Clackamas County detective, retired five years ago, had been a lieutenant working the patrol division when he was demoted for having sexual relationships with female subordinate employees.

Demoted cop. Allegedly trafficking drugs. Speeding in a construction zone. In Kane County.

Said Gengler, “We usually catch the dumb ones.”



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