Police Chief Gerald Whitman may not be the head of Denver’s police department for much longer, but he is making waves on his way out. He has proposed a change in procedures for when officers or other local criminal justice employee or public officials are pulled over for drunk driving.Independent Monitor Richard Rosenthal suggested Denver police don’t arrest their own for drunk driving. Chief Whitman decided even the possibility of this was too alarming to not do something about.
The suggested change would require officers to call a supervisor whenever they pulled over such an official on suspicion of drunk driving. This would then leave them more accountable if they chose to not make an arrest.
According to the Denver Post, five Denver officers have been arrested for driving drunk following an accident since 2005. None have been arrested for DUI without an accident being involved. On the other hand, data shows that for every three people arrested for DUI, one involves a collision. Assuming police officers function at the same rate as regular folks, this means it would make far more sense for there to have been approximately 15 DUI arrests of policers over the same period.
Not everyone is happy with the recommendation, stating that they should not be held to a higher standard. But why shouldn’t they be? If they are tasked with enforcing the laws, shouldn’t they be expected to follow them even more closely?
Whitman made the recommendation knowing another Chief and incoming safety manager Justice Alex Martinez would ultimately make the final decision on its implementation.
Police spokesperson Matt Murray says in defense of his officers “We are not tolerant of DUI; we are pretty committed in that area. No public officials, in fact nobody, should be driving drunk. We believe there is a standard and everybody should meet it.”
Cronyism in policing is nothing new. In certain cities, officers would be given card to pass out to friends and family members, cards that when shown to another officers would indicate this person to be a friend of a cop and therefore worthy of special treatment.
It’s not surprising that cops would let each other off the hook, most people would be shocked to find out police officers weren’t practicing this unequal enforcement.
Unfortunately, if you are a regular citizen and suspected of drunk driving, you won’t have this benefit. If you are facing charges of DUI, contact us today to discuss what can be done.