Metro-East News

Officer smells pot during traffic stop, finds loaded gun in sex offender’s car, police say

A Centreville sex offender and convicted felon was arrested after a Swansea police officer found a loaded gun in his car after stopping him for speeding, police say. The man’s 8-year-old son was in the car.

Officer Andrew Hewitt stopped Kenneth B. McCline, 38, on Nov. 19 around midnight for driving more than 20 mph over the speed limit, according to a press release.

Hewitt stopped the car on Illinois 161 near Sullivan Drive and approached McCline. Inside the 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe, Hewitt saw a weighing scale and smelled marijuana.

According to the release, Hewitt asked McCline if he could search the car based on his criminal history and signs of an illegal substance. McCline told him no, “becoming agitated” and saying Hewitt would have to “shoot him if he wanted to search” the car.

Hewitt arrested McCline and searched the car. He found a loaded semiautomatic handgun under the driver’s seat that had a defaced serial number, according to the release.

McCline has 10 prior convictions in St. Clair County, including one felony conviction of aggravated sexual assault. He is also a registered sex offender.

On Nov. 20, McCline was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number.

McCline was being held at St. Clair County jail with a bail of $75,000 as of Monday morning.

“Officer Hewitt showed great restraint and professionalism when threatened by a convicted felon sex offender, previous parolee, with obvious drugs, scale and a loaded semi-automatic pistol with a 30-round magazine,” Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson said. “All of this because of stopping the vehicle for a simple speeding violation. Officers never know what might happen when they walk up to that car.”

Kaley Johnson: 618-239-2526, @KaleyJohnson6