It was announced that thirteen Chicago police officers were arrested for driving under the influence last year. Five incidents involved an accident and two resulted in injuries. The disclosure comes days after the news that a veteran police officer was charged with aggravated Ill DUI and reckless homicide for his role in a fiery wreck that killed two people. The officer in that case had a blood alcohol content more than three times the legal limit.
The Police Superintendent Jody Weis, who took office last year after two high-profile bar beatings involving police, created a bureau to evaluate officer conduct and increase training, especially when dealing with excessive drinking and alcohol abuse. After the most recent incident of drunk driving by a police officer, Weis made it mandatory for officers to inform the watch commander and internal affairs when a fellow officer is suspected of being intoxicated. There is an interest in implementing random testing of officers though that will require a change in the contract with the union representing the rank and file.
Of the 13 police officers charged with drunk driving in Illinois during 2008, none have yet lost their jobs. 8 cases have been resolved and 5 remain open. The penalties have included suspension with out pay for 20-45 days, reassignment to a desk position and temporary leave. Four DUI arrests were made by Chicago police, three in the Chicago suburbs and six out of state. With a total force of 13,000 officers, the rate for DUI arrest is one per 1000. The U.S. average is one drunk driving arrest for every 155 motorists.
Weis acknowledges that police officers are held to a higher standard, and accepts that the citizens of Chicago have the right to expect the police to protect them from drunk drivers and not be part of the problem.
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