On July 7, the commander of the Michigan State Police Post in Gladstone was arrested for drunken driving after a one-vehicle accident in Chippewa County. A lab test later revealed his blood alcohol content was above the legal limit for drinking and driving. Due to a technicality, evidence of his intoxicated driving was not permissible in court and the case was dismissed. An internal investigation by the state police headquarters is pending. Meanwhile, the commander is suspended from work but continues to get paid.
There are many disappointments in this incident. Not only is it disappointing that a law enforcement officer was driving drunk, he was also involved in an accident likely due to his drinking. Luckily, no other vehicles were involved and no one was injured. Fortunately, a fellow officer stood up to the law and arrested the driver.
Though it's disappointing that an officer was driving while intoxicated, we are all human and we can make bad decisions. In this case, the driver made a poor choice and broke the law by driving after drinking beyond the legal limit.
He should fess up to making that wrong decision, admit he shouldn't have drove drunk, apologize for his actions, and pay the fine. He should do this as any member of the public would be expected to do. He should also do this because he is a high-ranking officer who is paid by the public to enforce the laws for everyone's safety.
Though the officer's lack of guilt is a disappointment, another greater and far-reaching disappointment is the affect that this case will have on all law enforcement.
Every officer - no matter if they are a state trooper, county deputy, city policeman, or conservation officer - is going to feel the repercussions of this one mistake made by a fellow officer, not only because of his arrest but because the drunken driving charge was dismissed due to a technicality.
Officers will be reminded of this incident and they will be looked down upon by some members of the public because they are members of "the system." Suspects arrested for drunken driving and other offenses will bring it up to police and judges; they'll question the fairness of why they are being punished and he was not.
Officers, including those who uphold the law in every aspect of their lives, will be paying the price of this case for years to come. That's a shame because they are not to blame. This one trooper's mistake should not be a representation of all officers. Hopefully, the public realizes this and respects those who deserve respect.
The officer who was arrested likely won't live this incident down. He could have pleaded guilty and faced the consequences of his actions. Some people may have looked up to him for admitting to making a mistake and paying for it. In time, the incident could have faded from the public's eye.
Instead, by the officer not admitting guilt and by the case being dismissed due to a technicality, other police officers as well as those in the judicial system will continue to be the butt of what some consider a joke on society.