Daily Archives: November 18, 2013
I've written often in the past about the "double standard" in DUI law enforcement — particularly, the policy that cops get a free pass when it comes to driving drunk. See, for example, The DUI Double Standard, The Blue Code: Cover-Up of a Cover-Up, Another Drunk Driving Cop Gets a "Blue Pass", "Professional Courtesy", Guarding the Guardians and The DUI Double Standard Continues.
In today's news, yet another example of the double standard:
Some Cops Allowed to Work After Drinking
Butler County, OH. Nov. 18 — Law enforcement officers in some area communities can strap on a gun and issue tickets for drivers who are more sober than they are, a Journal-News investigation found.
The newspaper reviewed union contracts for local public safety offices, including the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and found that officers and firefighters are sometimes protected from discipline when they are at work with alcohol in their system.
These rules are often enforced by union contracts.
In Lebanon, where officers and firefighters can work with a .04 blood alcohol level, Police Chief Jeff Mitchell said he’s actively pursued more stringent alcohol rules to be written into the city’s union contracts.
Mitchell, who’s been in charge for nearly two years, said he negotiated his first union contract this past summer. He got the unions to remove a clause that allowed officers to suck on a breath mint before they were tested for alcohol, but couldn’t get union representatives to reduce the .04 limit to zero.
“When I came across that, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s different,’ ” Mitchell said, adding that breath mints can distort breathalyzer readings.
“Doesn’t that sound odd to you that you would have that in a contract with police?”
Mitchell said he’s never had to discipline an officer for using alcohol on the job and he believes the alcohol provision was added to the contract decades ago.
“My thought process is, ‘How does that look if the public looks at this and sees our contract?’”
Attorney Patrick Mulligan, who handles drunk driving cases across southwest Ohio, pointed out that drivers under age 21 can be cited for drunk driving with a blood alcohol content above .02. This means an officer could issue a ticket to someone more sober than he or she is.
“It’s an interesting double standard,” he said. “I don’t think it’s one the general public would appreciate.”
Mulligan said he handles two or three cases a month of drivers cited for drunk driving with a blood alcohol content less than .08. He said he currently is representing a man who was ticketed east of Cincinnati after being pulled over because of a loud exhaust system before being hauled in for drunk driving with a BAC of .053…
Doug Scoles, executive director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Ohio, said he doesn’t understand what would drive public safety agencies to include alcohol limits in their union contracts.
“I can’t, for the life of me, think of why it would be so important to have an acceptable level of alcohol permissible, Scoles said. “If I’m a law enforcement officer, I would be the last person in the world who would want to have alcohol on my breath when I pull someone over.”…
For those who find this shocking, you might want to look at the practices and policies in your own jurisdictions. This double standard is far from limited to Ohio.
(Thanks to Joe.)