Thursday, April 16, 2009
Thirteen Chicago police officers were arrested last year on drunken driving charges, and five of them were involved in car crashes, two with injuries, the department says.
Police Supt. Jody Weis, who took office last year after officers had been arrested in two high-profile bar beatings, created a new bureau to evaluate officer conduct and training, pushed for more department-wide messages warning of excessive drinking and approved advanced training for department peer counselors to deal with alcohol abuse issues.
After Friday's crash involving detective Joseph Frugoli, Weis changed departmental policy to require that any officer who suspects another officer of being intoxicated to notify the on-duty watch commander, who must then go to the scene. Internal affairs will also be immediately notified.
At the courthouse Video "It is our hope that tragic incidents such as the one that occurred on April 10 will be eliminated through continued training, education, treatment, accountability and discipline for those members who violate the well-established rule against becoming intoxicated and getting behind the wheel," Weis said in an e-mail in response to questions.
A department source said this week that top brass may also push for random alcohol testing of officers. That would require changes in the contract with the Fraternal Order of Police, the union representing the rank and file.
Four of the officers were arrested by Chicago police, three in the suburbs and six out of state, police said.
Weis earlier this week pointed out the small number of officers who have been accused of driving drunk compared to the department's 13,000 officers. Statistically speaking, about one in 1,000 Chicago officers were arrested for DUI last year. That pales by comparison to a national average of one drunk-driving arrest for every 155 drivers, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services statistics.
Still, Weis acknowledged that officers have responsibilities that require them to be held to a higher standard.
"The residents of Chicago rightfully expect the police to protect them from drunk drivers, not to become part of the problem," Weis said in the e-mail.
Why do people think we are robots and don't go through the same issues everyone else on this planet has. We make mistakes too we are human.