Sunday, July 26, 2009

Chief of Alexandria (Virginia) Police Gets the Ultimate Bureaucratic Punishment

He was placed on paid administrative leave.

From the City of Alexandria's website:

On Saturday, July 25 at approximately 11:00 p.m., Arlington County Police arrested Alexandria Chief of Police David P. Baker for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). Chief Baker was involved in a traffic collision near the intersection of I-66 and North Fairfax Drive in Arlington County. The driver of the other vehicle sustained non life-threatening injuries and was transported to a local area hospital. According to Arlington County Police, Chief Baker’s blood alcohol level (BAC) was .19 percent. Chief Baker was driving an unmarked City vehicle at the time of the accident. Following the arrest, he was released through normal booking procedures.

Because of the arrest, Alexandria City Manager James K. Hartmann placed Chief Baker on paid administrative leave, and appointed Alexandria Executive Deputy Chief of Police Earl Cook Acting Chief of Police, effective immediately.

The Washington Post's report on the arrest adds a little bit more detail.

A few observations:

1. Chief of Police Baker must be very accustomed to heavy drinking if he was still moving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.19, which translates into about ten drinks for a man of his body weight. That is more than twice the level that proves a driver "per se intoxicated" in any state in the union, and is not far short of unconsciousness.

2. Chief of Police Baker is very lucky he stopped drinking exactly when he did, or else he was the beneficiary of a cooperative booking officer, since his 0.19 blood-alcohol concentration is just one notch short of the level at which he would have qualified for "enhanced penalties" for drunk driving under Virginia law.

3. Chief of Police Baker is history. He was not merely driving drunk, he was falling-down drunk and driving a government vehicle when he hit another car and injured the other driver, and he did this in the neighboring jurisdiction of Arlington where he had no home field advantage with the arresting officer(s).

My prediction: there will be a quick trip to a rehab clinic, followed by a guilt plea, followed by a lawsuit against Alexandria for the city's negligent failure to detect Chief Baker's drinking and driving problem before he hit the plaintiff.

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