FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The Fort Worth police chief has vowed that the full force of the department will be brought down on any officer caught driving drunk.
The very public declaration was made during a press conference held on Thursday, just one day after authorities in Keller arrested Fort Worth police officer Nicolas Ramirez for suspicion of Driving While Intoxicated.
During the press conference Fort Worth police chief Jeff Halstead spoke clearly to members of the department. “You cannot drink and drive any longer, unless you want to throw your career down the drain because I will not tolerate it. And when I get that case, if you are sustained of that allegation, you will not be working in this organization.”
The chief made it clear that because of the seriousness of the offense Internal Affairs investigations will be streamlined and he not wait for the outcome of criminal charges to decide an officer’s future. “If the investigations reveal the truth of the allegations, from this date forward, every employee will be indefinitely suspended. What that means for our citizens, they will be terminated,” he said firmly. “They will not work in this police department any day after a sustained violation of DWI.”
This week’s arrest of Ramirez, an officer assigned to DWI enforcement, and last months DWI arrest of his chief of staff, Captain Paul Henderson, have added to what Halstead said is the most frustration he has experienced in his entire career.
But the new tougher stance won’t affect current cases involving members of the police department, including the two aforementioned officers. While incidents occurring prior to January 3, 2013 will be decided on a case-by-case basis, Halstead said that doesn’t mean those accused prior will get a ‘free pass.’ He said, “I should warn every single one of those employees [facing charges] there is going to be a much stronger reaction from my desk on those cases.”
According to Halstead, there have been 14 DWI cases against Fort Worth police officers in the last four years.
Of those cases the chief cited one in particular involving then police Officer Jesus Cisneros who was off duty, in an unmarked police vehicle, when he hit and killed Fort Worth wife and mother Sonia Baker. At the time of the crash Cisneros had more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system.
Halstead said those types of incidents are devastating to the department. “We’re an organization that’s hurting. Public trust is the foundation of public service.”
Mayor Betsy Price says she’s behind the move, but with one condition.
“Obviously we support the chief today. But we expect to see change and we expect to see results. You know we have a great police force. We have great officers and we support them 100 percent and we’re not going to tolerate the decisions that are being made,” she said.
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