Posts Tagged ‘MADD Awards Ceremonies’

Anti-Drunk Driving Awards Ceremonies & Officer Manipulation of Field Sobriety Test Evaluations

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Anti-Drunk Driving Awards Ceremonies & Officer Manipulation of Field Sobriety Test Evaluations

In light of an article in the Orange County Register regarding the recent awards ceremony sponsored by the Orange County Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the story of two Chicago police officers who were caught misrepresenting DUI suspects’ performance on field sobriety tests comes to mind.  Like many of the Orange County law enforcement officers listed below, Officer Parker and Officer Haleas, both Chicago police officers, received awards for having more DUI arrests than almost any other officer in the Chicago area from a local anti-drunk driving organization: the Schaumburg-based Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists.

As nearly any DUI defense lawyer will tell you, there are two major reasons why police officers might cut corners or even lie to boost their DUI arrest numbers: First, they stand to profit from the resulting overtime for going to court on the cases, and second, there are numerous accolades and awards to be had.

While the practice of misrepresenting a DUI suspect’s performance on the field sobriety tests is not necessarily uncommon, finding actual proof of the misrepresentation is.  This is particularly so when many prosecutors and judges look the other way and excuse the discrepancies as being something that just cannot be seen from the angle of the video camera in the patrol vehicle.  In this case though, the proof came by way of same type of video camera found in most patrol vehicles across Orange County.

According to the article in the Chicago Sun Times, when prosecutors viewed the video of Officer Joe D. Parker’s July 2008 sobriety test of Raymond L. Bell, they realized that the video did not comport with what the officer wrote in his police report.  After reviewing the evidence, the prosecutors decided to dismiss the driving under the influence (DUI) charges against Mr. Bell.

According to the article in the Chicago Sun Times, Officer Parker wrote in his police report that Mr. Bell lost his balance and used his arms to steady himself during the field sobriety tests.  The patrol video from Officer Parker’s patrol unit, however, showed a different story.  Officer Parker’s patrol video, which was obtained and viewed by the Chicago Sun Times, showed that when Officer Parker activated his overhead lights to pull Bell over, Bell immediately slowed down but continued to drive for about 40 seconds until he was able to safely exit at the first off-ramp; however, Officer Parker wrote in his arrest report that: “Due to speed, operator refused to stop.”

Officer Parker also wrote in his arrest report that Bell‘s eyes were bloodshot and that he had a strong odor of alcohol when he stepped out of the car.  He further stated that Bell “staggered” and that his gait was “unsteady” as he was exiting his vehicle, all of which was contradicted by the patrol video.

Officer Parker first had Mr. Bell perform the Walk-and-Turn test, in which he had to put one foot on a line, with his arms at his sides, then take nine steps heel-to-toe, turn and walk back with nine more steps.  The patrol video showed Mr. Bell appearing to be perfectly balanced while he performed the sobriety test.  According to Officer Parker’s arrest report, though, Bell performed the test unsatisfactorily.

Officer Parker next had Mr. Bell perform the One-Leg Stand test, in which he would need to raise one foot about six inches off the ground and count to 30.  Mr. Bell initially put his foot down when Officer Parker told him to keep looking at his foot, but thereafter, Mr. Bell stood almost still with his foot off the ground as he counted past 30.  In his report, though, Officer Parker marked Mr. Bell down for lowering his foot and also for hopping, using his arms for balance, and swaying.  None of which was supported by the patrol video.

After the field sobriety tests, Bell requested to take a Breathalyzer, but Officer Parker said that he did not have the device in his patrol vehicle, and thus could not administer the test.  Later, Bell refused to take the test at the station.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, dozens of DUI arrests by Officer Parker are currently under review.  A review of Officer Haleas’s arrests for similar types of misconduct has already led to 156 cases being dismissed.  According to the Chicago Sun Times, Officer Parker could not be reached for comment.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has an Orange County Chapter that also provides awards ceremonies for local law enforcement officers who have accumulated mass numbers of DUI arrests.  According to the Orange County Register, at the most recent Orange County awards ceremony, about 350 uniformed Orange County law enforcement officers dined as 24 of their fellow officers were given the 2009 Century Award for making 100 or more arrests for suspicion of driving under the influence during 2008.  Additionally, a dozen prosecutors received the 2009 Diligent Prosecution Award for their work in DUI convictions and drunk driving deaths.

At the Orange County Mothers Against Drunk Driving Awards Ceremony, Officers with more than 100 arrests for suspicion of driving under the influence received a Century Award.  Motorcycle officer Tai Huynh of the Huntington Beach Police Department received the quadruple Century Award for making 445 DUI arrests in one year.  It is noteworthy to point out, though, that the awards were given out for arrests for suspicion of driving under the influence, not convictions. 

What follows is a list from the Orange County Register article of the recipients of the 2009 Century Awards, including the recipients of the Double, Triple and Quadruple Century Awards.  With most officers working only three-to-four days per week, and only 365 days in a year minus vacation time, some officers appear to have averaged more than four arrests per shift.

 

2009 Century Award Recipients

The following officers were honored for making 100 or more arrests:

Officer Weston Hadley

Santa Ana Police Department

101 arrests

Officer Kevin Plog

Orange Police Department

101 arrests

Officer Allen Rieckhof

Costa Mesa Police Department

102 arrests

Deputy Peter Mach

Orange County Sheriff‘s Department

Stanton Police Services

103 arrests

Officer Brad Miller

Newport Beach Police Department

103 arrests

Officer Chris Wren

Fullerton Police Department

104 arrests

Sgt. Dale Shields

Huntington Beach Police Department

105 arrests

Officer Jeff McCann

Costa Mesa Police Department

105 arrests

Officer Scott Dibble

Costa Mesa Police Department

106 arrests

Officer Erik Rosado

Costa Mesa Police Department

107 arrests

Officer Rick Cummings

Costa Mesa Police Department

108 arrests

Officer Tony Reitz

Costa Mesa Police Department

109 arrests

Officer Kenny Edgar

Fullerton Police Department

111 arrests

Officer Eric Little

Newport Beach Police Department

112 arrests

Patrol Officer Wade Wilson

Huntington Beach Police Department

125 arrests

Patrol Officer Roman Altenbach

Huntington Beach Police Department

135 arrests

Patrol Officer Doug Demetre

Huntington Beach Police Department

141 arrests

Officer James Rice

Buena Park Police Department

142 arrests

Motor Officer Mark Van Meter

Huntington Beach Police Department

142 arrests

Corporal Mark Bell

Santa Ana Police Department

153 arrests

 

Double Century, 200 or more arrests

Officer Michael Kuplast

Santa Ana Police Department

202 arrests

 

Triple Century, 300 or more arrests

Officer Kirk Salmon

Orange Police Department

307 arrests

Officer Justin McGowan

Orange Police Department

314 arrests

 

Quadruple Century, 400 or more arrests

Motor Officer Tai Huynh

Huntington Beach Police Department

445 arrests

 

For Orange County Register Article:

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/driving-drunk-award-2333526-officers-received

 

For Chicago Sun Time Article:

http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/1470350,CST-NWS-duivideo11.article#