I’ve often posted in the past about a double standard when it comes to enforcing drunk driving laws against police officers. See, for example, Who Will Guard the Guardians?, The DUI Double Standard, The DUI Double Standard II, Guarding the Guardians. As news over the weekend reflects, the cover-ups continue….
Drunk Driving Double Standard
Hartford, CT. Dec. 19 – It opens with a pleasant holiday jingle, and what looks to be some festive Christmas lights.
And then comes a startling screech of metal before the camera pulls back to show police lights and sirens and state police spokesperson Lt. Paul Vance delivering this stern message:
"Nothing shatters the holidays faster than a car crash. The state and local police are cracking down on speeding, unbuckled drivers and drunk driving this season."
"We will stop you," Vance warns over an image of a tombstone, "before you put an end to your holiday or someone else’s."
Unless, of course, you’re a cop in Windsor Locks or Bristol these days. And then, well, the tough guy bit makes way for a kinder, gentler approach.
If you’re a Bristol officer, for example, you apparently get a written warning for driving too fast after slamming your cruiser into a utility pole and knocking out power to a whole neighborhood.
In case you missed that story, here are the highlights: On June 26, former Bristol Police Officer Robert Mosback reported for duty after drinking a beer and two rum and Cokes at a party earlier that evening.
Shortly after his shift began, Mosback totaled his cruiser and caused $100,000 worth of damage. But there wasn’t a peep about possible misconduct from his department until a worker’s comp employee uncovered hospital reports that showed Mosback was intoxicated and denied the city’s claims.
Mosback quit three days after the city got the medical report. And earlier this month, state police who were called in to conduct an independent investigation, charged Mosback with drunken driving.
In an arrest affidavit, Mosback insists he wasn’t drunk: He napped before his shift, he said. And this doozy: His hospital tests must have been switched with another patient’s.
Then there’s the now well-known case of Windsor Locks Officer Michael Koistinen, who struck and killed 15-year-old Henry Dang on Oct. 29 after an apparent night of drinking.
As far-fetched as Mosback’s "switched sobriety test" defense, Koistinen’s claim that he wasn’t drunk when he slammed his car into Dang as the teen bicycled home, is even more suspect. His father, a Windsor Locks sergeant, was briefly in charge of the crash scene and, despite officers on the scene noting a case of unopened beer in his car, Koistinen wasn’t given a sobriety test.
Koistinen, who eventually was fired after state police took over the investigation, now faces a number of criminal charges, including manslaughter. His father, Sgt. Robert Koistinen, remains on paid administrative leave.
"The police are cracking down on drunk driving," warns the spot now airing for the holidays.
Good, except does that apply to everyone – or only to those who aren’t cops?
So who guards the guardians?