Every week, a deputy sheriff, policeman or highway patrol officer is being arrested, tested, booked, arraigned, tried and convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol. Some personnel are further embarrassed by being arrested by their own law enforcement agency. The Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department does not tell its employees they cannot drink. The Department does say that each employee will be responsible for their own actions. The Department will not tolerate abuse of alcohol or any other mind-altering chemical by its employees.
As a member of the Sheriff’s Department, if you drink and drive, you are risking the loss of your career. If you are involved in an accident and someone is injured or a death occurs, you can be charged with a felony. If you drink and drive and are apprehended prior to being involved in an accident, you will be tested, arrested, booked, arraigned, tried and probably convicted. In many courtrooms, there are many judges who will hand out the stiffest penalty allowed to a law enforcement officer because he or she should have known better. You will have extra costly bills to pay that you did not budget for. The Department will discipline you for being convicted. Usually there will be days off without pay. If you received 10 days off without pay, that is half of your monthly salary. It is very hard to pay bills with only half of your salary. There is the expense of the lawyer. There are fines that will have to be paid. There may be costs to have your own vehicle or another person’s vehicle repaired. Sure, you have insurance, but we all have deductibles. There may be hospital bills for yourself or someone else. You may suffer the ultimate humiliation and be jailed. As a condition of employment for the Sheriff’s Department, you are required to have a valid California driver’s license. If your driving privilege is suspended or revoked, you will not be able to meet one of the conditions of your employment.
The solution is so simple, it’s mind-boggling: Don’t drink and drive. You cannot suffer any of the above consequences if you don’t drink and drive. If you need help putting down that drink or are unable to think clearly, you can call Psychological Services Bureau (PSB) at (213) 738-3500 or contact the Peace Officer’s Fellowship (POF).
The POF is a group of law enforcement men and women who have had drinking problems. It is self-supporting, nondenominational, multiracial, apolitical and available to any law enforcement officer with a desire to stop drinking. Membership is open to all law enforcement officers who want to do something about their drinking. The POF operates under the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. Confidentiality and anonymity are absolutes. Members share their experiences with others seeking help with a drinking problem. They give person-to-person service or “sponsorship” to the new member and offer a way to develop a satisfying life without alcohol. If you are interested in finding out more information about POF, call one of the members listed here.