DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas Police Chief David Brown is defending his department after having to place an officer on administrative leave following accusations that he drove drunk and shot at another vehicle while having marijuana on him.
“You can often paint the entire organization with a broad brush as if we’re out of control when that’s absolutely not the case,” Brown said Monday.
On Sunday morning, Officer Rafael Mendoza was arrested in Mesquite and charged with driving while intoxicated, aggravated assault and possession of marijuana.
Mendoza had come off a five-day suspension the month before the incident for being arrested in July 2011 on suspicion of domestic violence and unlawful restraint.
His girlfriend refused to press charges, but alleged he knocked her to the ground, handcuffed her and threatened to send her to prison.
Mendoza was placed on administrative leave after Sunday’s arrest. Brown said an internal investigation is also underway.
“Less than one half of one percent get involved in behavior similar to this, but one is too many. We don’t have a tolerance for this type of behavior in this organization. This is a first class organization.”
According to department statistics, the force employs 3,400 officers. About 30 are terminated each year for various reasons. That’s less than one percent.
And out of those 30, five are fired for intoxication-related charges and three are dismissed for domestic violence.
Brown says these isolated incidents paint a black-eye on the department.
There are currently 11 officers on administrative leave or restricted duty for questionable behavior, but despite that, Brown believes the department’s screening process works.
“We have one of the longest police academy’s in country- eight months and then field training, six months,” said Brown. “We’re watching your behavior to be sure you are of the quality we want.”
Brown says those who wear the badge are expected to uphold the law, not break it.
As for Officer Mendoza, the chief said, “We’re going to hold him accountable for his behavior.”
Mendoza’s girlfriend dropped the charges stemming from last July’s domestic disturbance. However, the department still suspended him five days.
Mendoza has now been placed back on administrative leave pending a hearing for his new charges.
The 34 year old joined the Dallas Police Department in December of 2008.