You know if you drive drunk, you're going to get busted. But until now, that wasn't the case for Phoenix police officers. The department is now cracking down on officers busted for driving under the influence.
Before Monday, if an officer got caught for driving drunk, they'd typically get an eight-hour suspension. It might seem like a slap on the wrist, and the department even admits there's a problem and is doing something about it.
When Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia was sworn in this May, he said he meant business. And one of his first major policy changes is making the punishment of officers who get DUIs more harsh.
"Changing the category from a suspendable offense to now one that is suspendable but also an offense for which you could be terminated for," said Sgt. Trent Crump with Phoenix police.
Until now, an officer wouldn't get fired for getting a DUI. We've seen this in just the last two weeks, when Officer Jeffrey Smoger was charged with a super extreme DUI and is now working an administration job.
Or Sgt. John Flanagan, who was arrested for DUI last March with his kids in the car and just recently got his job back. Flanagan was terminated, but the Civil Service Board got him reinstated.
"We have had too many officers on this department who have engaged in that conduct," Crump said.
Under the new policy, effective Monday, if you get a DUI, arrive for work with alcohol or drugs in your system, drive a city car with alcohol or drugs in your system, drink or take drugs while on duty, or do so in an off-duty gig, you can get fired.
"I think you have a chief who wants to send a message," said Joe Clure, President of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association.
He added that while it's a reasonable change, a peace officer is a unique job, and they see and experience things that can often lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Even though police officers are held to a higher standard, as they should be, you're still hiring individuals who are going to have the same types of issues," Clure said.
The changes are part of a draft of the disciplinary policy and more changes are expected.
Copyright 2012 KPHO (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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