Medford officer latest to face DUI
Drunk driving among off duty law enforcement in Massachusetts continues to be a major concern with a Medford police officer the latest to be charged with driving under the influence. 46 year old Shawn Norton pleaded not guilty to the DUI charge that also included causing an accident, fleeing the scene, and refusing to stop. He was released on $100 after he was arrested when Medford police received reports of a hit and run in Wilmington involving a vehicle.
When asked to pull over after his vehicle was spotted with a damaged front, Norton failed to respond and continued to drive on before stopping at a parking lot. Police reports indicate that Norton failed sobriety tests and had difficulty following the instructions of the officer involved. Following the charges, Norton has been placed on administrative leave,
30 DUI incidents in two years
Norton in one among as many as 30 law enforcement personnel in the state of Massachusetts arrested for drunk driving between 2012 and the end of 2014. State trooper Brian Simpkins was only 19 when he rammed his Chevy pickup into a tree and was arrested for DUI.
In September 2012, he was arrested once again after he was found lying on the floor of his car with a half empty can of beer. Ironically, he was in charge of keeping the state’s roads safe from drunk drivers. According to the arrest report, 41 year old Simpkins admitted to have been drinking at various venues before he was found asleep in his car. Instead of handing over his driver’s license, he gave the state trooper a Visa card.
A short lived suspension
According to Boston MA DUI attorneys, in the 30 DUI incidents involving law, three people were killed and more than six people were injured. What concerns many experts is the light penalties. Following the charges, a majority of the officers involved are back at their job after a short suspension while a few either resigned or were placed on administrative leave.
State trooper Simpkins still earns as much as $130,000 a year (incredible – no wonder taxes in Massachusetts are so high) on administrative duty despite having lost his license for a year after he refused a breath test. He was acquitted of the criminal charges and is back on patrol.
Records kept under wraps
Some experts believe that the drunk driving tally could be higher since not many are reported due the practice of ‘professional courtesy’ amongst the force. According to the Boston Globe, there were many cases like Simpkins where officers refused a breath test and were let of the hook since they could not be prosecuted on criminal charges. Many of them were kept on the payroll after temporarily losing their license.
The Globe also reports that details of officers involved in drunken driving incidents were kept under wraps by many departments who refused to reveal the names and withheld reports and photos of arrested officers. These findings have not gone down well with people like Ron Bersani of Marshfield who lost his 13-year-old granddaughter in a DUI incident in 2003, which inspired ‘Melanie’s Law’.
Cheating cops, cheating football team
While many agree that officers could overstep the limit when it comes to drinking, most people expect more from police officers who are aware of the horrific number of deaths in drunken driving accidents. Any hit and run should lead to a loss of job. As if Massachusetts did not have enough issues considering their economy is pitiful too.