We’re in support of Aspen’s police chief
September 9, 2008
Cops are sworn to uphold the law. It appears that Aspen police officer Jim Crowley breached both professional ethics and the law when, on Aug. 28, he allegedly reported for work and got behind the wheel of a police car while he was under the influence of alcohol.
On Aug. 29, Crowley, an 18-year veteran of the department and by all accounts an exemplary police officer, lost his job.
Police Chief Richard Pryor explained his decision by saying simply that it’s unsafe for an on-duty cop to be drunk, and we agree with him.
Based on the information we have now ” a police report and the statements of the arresting officers, but nothing from Crowley himself ” we support Pryor’s decision.
There should be a zero-tolerance policy for officers who break the laws that they themselves enforce. Furthermore, from a citizen’s standpoint, the idea of a drunk cop behind the wheel of a police car and carrying a loaded weapon is just plain scary.
That said, we have questions. And so do many members of the public.
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People are innocent until proven guilty in this country, and it’s difficult to take the arresting officers at their word without also having heard from Crowley.
And why, if Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn smelled alcohol on Crowley’s breath first thing in the morning, did Linn allow Crowley to leave the office and get behind the wheel of a police car? Why not keep Crowley in the office for the time being, or give him a ride home and tell him to sleep it off?
It’s easy to play Monday-morning quarterback and second-guess every move the officers made that day. It’s also important to note that the entire situation is terrible ” a veteran of nearly 20 years just lost his job because, ironically, he came to work.
We’re unaware of any evidence that Crowley was drinking before work; Lawson Wills, an attorney and friend of Crowley’s, has said the officer was merely hung over from the night before.
But the law makes no distinctions regarding when the drinking occurred. Either you’re above the legal limit, or you’re safely below it. And Crowley’s breath test ” two of them, actually ” showed him to be unfit for duty.
It’s unclear how this matter might pan out in the courts, and we don’t know yet if
Crowley plans to appeal his termination within City Hall. Unless those processes yield some contradictory evidence, however, we support the police chief on this one.