Monday, October 15, 2012

On Duty Detective Drunk Driving

BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor police detective charged last week with drunken driving tested well above the legal limit for blood alcohol content, according to Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy.
Almy said Friday the charge was lodged against Detective Erik Tall after someone contacted Bangor police about 6:30 p.m. Oct. 3 to say an on-duty detective was intoxicated at the Airport Mall on Union Street. Fellow police officers went to check on him.
Lt. Mark Hathaway, the city’s interim police chief, charged Tall with operating under the influence, Almy said.
A person had given information that he had been drinking and they went and checked,” the district attorney said, referring to Tall’s fellow police officers.
Note that "a person" is gender neutral.
Note that "had given" is passive, seeking to conceal identity and/or responsibility. 
Note that they went to "check"
Police used an Intoxilyzer test that showed Tall’s blood alcohol level was 0.13, Almy said.
The state’s legal limit for driving a vehicle is 0.08.
On Thursday, City Manager Cathy Conlow, without naming the person involved, said a Bangor Police Department employee was placed on unpaid leave Oct. 3 pending the outcome of an external investigation into the employee’s alleged misconduct.
Other Bangor police officers and Maine State Police troopers have faced drunken driving charges over the years that Almy’s office has prosecuted, the district attorney recalled.
“It’s happened before and we’ll deal with it just like everybody else,” Almy said of the case against Tall.
A 24-year veteran of the state police was charged in June with operating her state police cruiser while under the influence of alcohol.
Sgt. Julie Bergan, 54, who works out of the Houlton barracks, was charged after she reported for work in her state police-issued cruiser and her supervisor, Lt. Mark Brooks, and several co-workers saw her behaving in what they believed to be an erratic manner. She was given and failed field sobriety and blood-alcohol content tests, state police Lt. Col. Raymond Bessette said after the charges were filed.
Her attorney entered a not guilty plea on her behalf in August. Bergan was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation conducted by Lt. Erik Baker, who heads the Internal Affairs Division at state police headquarters in Augusta, Bessette said.
The last time a Bangor police officer was charged with drunken driving “was 25 years ago, in April 1987,” Conlow said. “He was suspended for five weeks and required to go into treatment. He never touched another drink.”
The police officer, who retired from the police department in 2007 after 36 years on the force, was “a stellar employee and is a good guy,” Conlow said.
He continues to volunteer for the city’s parks and recreation department, she said.
A drunken driving charge against a police officer does not automatically result in the person being fired, said Almy, who is district attorney for both Penobscot and Piscataquis counties.
“It depends on the person and depends on the circumstances,” he said, adding that city officials have the job of making that decision.
Of the two most recent law enforcement OUI charges his office handled, “One officer did not lose his job and the other one did,” Almy said.
Tall, a 15-year veteran of the Bangor police force who has spent the last three years keeping tabs on the the city’s roughly 200 registered sex offenders, could not be reached for comment. He is scheduled to be in court on Nov. 14.
Before he joined the Bangor police force, Tall worked for the Orono Police Department and the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office, according to the Bangor Daily News archives.
Conlow said Thursday that Hathaway handled the Oct. 3 incident with professionalism.
He immediately took all of the actions to make sure that the matter was handled in an appropriate manner,” the city manager said in a statement. “He came in and took the steps necessary to protect the rights of the employee, the needs of the public and the needs of the [police] department.”
Conlow declined to reveal which police agency is conducting the external investigation, but she did say it would be a couple of weeks before it’s completed.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like someone was out to get Tall and this was a convenient pretext.

Anonymous said...

Well, I never. Sounds to me like Tall was drunk and somone needed to get him!

Of all people, a stupid drunk out checking up on pedophiles. Maybe they need to be watching him WITH the pedophiles.

Lis said...

Is it usual, in the case of a tip, to ensure the tipster's anonymity, though? Particularly if the tipster wanted to remain anonymous?

I notice the rights of the employee is named first, needs of the public second, and needs of the dept third. One would wish the needs of the public would come first.

Katprint said...

@Lis - I think the word priorities you note come from concern about litigation. Most likely is a lawsuit (or union grievance hearing, or other form of litigation) by the police officer if all proper personnel disciplinary procedures aren't followed to the letter. Next most likely would be a lawsuit by a member of public if the drunk police officer had crashed into someone or something, which didn't happen in this particular case thus it would naturally seem less important than the ongoing discipline situations. Of lesser importance, the police dept. would like to run itself in an orderly fashion.

Anonymous said...

Of course the tipsters anonyominity should be protected at all costs. If an anonymous caller can't feel that their call would be kept in strictest confidence, that would prevent an awful lot of people from ever taking the risk of turning in a perpetrator.

The needs of the public was actually protected first when the drunk detective was arrested without regards to his rights or those of the department.

The arrest has no bearing on not revealing who the tipster was, nor was it a consideration. Why would anyone even have the need to know who the anonymous tipster was? The idiot was found to be drunk on duty and got arrested. That's all that matters at this point.

Anonymous said...

I hope she recognizes she is in the grip of a disease that will lead to much worse and get the help she desperatly needs. jails institutions & death, not a pretty future.


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