Many of us have had the experience of sitting quietly in briefing while a supervisor reads an account of a co-worker’s involvement in an alcohol-related traffic collision incident while off duty. We’ve sat solemnly and, for a moment, put ourselves in our co-worker’s shoes. We have experienced leaving a briefing feeling a little down, and concerned for our friend and how this would work out in the end.
For those of you who have experienced a DUI arrest or Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) interviews related to drinking, briefings like the one described above really hit close to home. We hope it was not a deuce traffic collision where someone was injured and we’re looking at possible felony charges. That could cost us our career.
We all know that as law enforcement, we are treated differently than civilians when it comes to DUI arrests and off-duty incidents. The guy who works in retail can get hooked for a deuce and his employer might not ever find out. He goes through the court system, receives his fine and probation, and gets on with his life. We, however, go through the court system, receive our fine and probation, and then stand by to take our lumps from the Sheriff’s Department. If our driver’s license was suspended and we are required to drive a vehicle for our assignment, we’ve got a problem. The average investigation takes months to complete, and the deputy may find his work assignment changed. A very hard-earned promotion or transfer to another unit could be canceled.
If you work in retail and get into a fistfight in public and you have been drinking, regardless of the circumstances (maybe you get hooked for 242 or 245), you have not been convicted in court, and your employer cannot discipline you in any way. If a deputy gets in a fistfight in public and he has been drinking, regardless of the circumstances (even if he’s never arrested or charged), the Department can discipline the deputy. If the investigation goes to IAB, it will be thoroughly investigated. Discipline could be anything from a suspension to termination.
Just because a deputy gets hooked for DUI or for being automatically involved in an off-duty incident while under the influence, doesn’t mean he/she has a drinking problem. But if the deputy does have a drinking problem, the chances of a DUI or alcohol-related incident increases significantly. Why? Because the deputy has alcohol in his/her system frequently. The deputy will likely be legally under the influence (.08) more frequently. That means the deputy with a drinking problem rolls the dice more. It doesn’t matter if you’re party two in a T/C or if you’re deuce; you can get hooked more often than a social drinker.
If you need assistance with a drinking problem, call Psychological Services Bureau (PSB) at (213) 738-3500. We have good psychologists who can assist you, or you can call the substance abuse resources coordinator.
If you are concerned that you’re drinking too often or too much, try calling one of the numbers provided here. The Peace Officers Fellowship (POF) is a group of men and women law enforcement officers who have had a drinking problem. It is a self-supporting, nondenominational, multiracial, apolitical group and is available to any law enforcement officer with a desire to stop drinking. There are no educational requirements. Membership is open to law enforcement officers who want to do something about their drinking. POF operates under the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. Confidentiality and anonymity are absolutes. Members share their experience with others seeking help.
The officers listed here have had a drinking problem and know what it’s like to take a chance way too often. The odds caught up with them. Whether it was a DUI arrest or an alcohol-related incident, they know what it’s like to face scrutiny from the Department due to their use of alcohol and can lead the way to sober living.