August 28, 2014

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Ohio police contracts set allowable booze levels

Ohio Highway Patrol troopers are among those who can't be disciplined for having blood alcohol levels below 0.04. (AP photo)

Ohio Highway Patrol troopers are among those who can’t be disciplined for having blood alcohol levels below 0.04. (AP photo)

DAYTON — Some law enforcement contracts across Ohio set allowable alcohol levels for officers on duty.

Ohio Highway Patrol troopers and state park police are among those who can’t be disciplined for having blood alcohol levels below 0.04, the Dayton Daily News reported. Some local agencies in the state have higher permissible levels, while others have zero tolerance on drinking.

Officials say such language has often been in contracts for years.

Union officials say that doesn’t mean drinking on duty is condoned, but the level helps safeguard officers who might have taken cough syrup that contains alcohol or were unexpectedly called out to duty.

“I can’t for the life of me think of why it would be so important to have an acceptable level of alcohol permissible,” said Doug Scoles, executive director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Ohio. “Why’s that even in the contract? That’s flabbergasting to hear.”

Highway Patrol Staff Lt. Anne Ralston said the 0.04 language has been in state contracts for years, including those for the patrol, park rangers, other state law enforcement and other state employees. It states: “No consequences will attach to any result below a .04 percent level.”

Ralston said that doesn’t mean they would be allowed to remain on duty after drinking. Someone testing below the allowed level would likely be sent home, she said.

“In no way is coming to work with any amount of alcohol or drugs in an employee’s system in line with our core values or our mission,” Ralston said.

In Delaware County’s Liberty Township near Columbus, firefighters don’t face discipline unless they are legally drunk at 0.08 percent. Township administrator David Anderson said he agreed to that level during union negotiations on drug and alcohol policy because in an emergency, “I don’t need anybody deciding not to come because that number is artificially low.”

Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said no alcohol amount is OK for his officers while on duty.

“We have to make split-second decisions and we could take somebody’s life in a split-second decision, so they have to be on their best game,” Plummer said.

Sgt. Jeff Gebhart, who represents Butler County sheriff’s detectives, supervisors and deputies in negotiations, said the alcohol policy has probably remained in contracts because it never comes up. He said he has yet to see a deputy on duty tested for suspicion being impaired.

“It’s not something that we’ve really bargained hard for,” he said.

  • K Gi

    This is by far the stupidest thing I have ever heard of. NO alcohol level is acceptable for a police officer.

  • bigmacky

    so – its ok for some law enforcement to still be under the influence albeit slightly. Still the last thing I want is a person wearing a gun and a badge with an ego already because of said badge and gun stopping me while under the influence – bad news all around – would you want a surgeon or a pilot under the influence? no, me either

  • stop ur whining

    shocking, but, we all know that law enforcement always has and always will play by a different set of rules. this is merely another fine example of do as a say not as i do.

  • Phil Blank

    “BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVELS” below 0.04
    What about buzzed driving is drunk driving?

    • MZee

      and buzzed decision making if they pull their weapon…

  • stop ur whining

    If this is done for law enforcement it should apply across the board for all. Lets start with school bus drivers and long haul truckers.

  • zdubb78

    This is only in place to protect Officers who are drunks and never ever get their BAC to 0.00………….they live their lives at a .04 and above
    just another way for the union to protect the bad guys, instead of getting rid of them

    • stop ur whining

      unions have been doing their part to destroy america for decades.

      • MZee

        I agree with both of you!
        You expect this from Lorain, but state?

  • GreatRedeemer

    Bet certain Lorain politicos wished they had a deal like that :)

    • stop ur whining

      hahaha. so true.

  • Pablo Jones

    “But
    the level helps safeguard officers who might have taken cough syrup
    that contains alcohol.” How much cough syrup are they drinking, the whole bottle?

  • Joe Smith

    But if a CCW holder drinks any they will get in trouble, driving and carrying a gun is either safe or not at .04

  • tickmeoff

    .04 is next to nothing. I had a job that required I report in to emergencies. My son and I were playing pool and I had two beers when called. I reported in, took a couple breath mints, and did my job. The reality of the law is .08 is for most adults a level where you might not be able to tell if they are under the influence. It takes time to bring down a blood alcohol level, and an emergency is just that….An emergency! This thinking that your employer owns you 24 hours a day is servitude. being a slave, that is why drug testing doesn’t belong in a free society.
    CEO’S and most business owners will never be drug tested. Only the lower rungs of society. We may not have a King or Royalty, but class and your financial well being will determine how you will be dealt with. As an employee you should show up for work Straight and rested to do your job. As to your private time, it should be yours, otherwise you are but a slave and not a free person.

    • MZee

      tickmeoff, you saying how you took breath mints shows you knew you were in the wrong.

      You are right, private time is your time. But you also know your time for work, and as a responsible adult should exercise judgment… which, sadly, varies like stupidity does in each person.
      Not being able to walk or talk straight is FAR into being under the influence. NOT showing those symptoms does not mean your brain is functioning properly.
      An emergency with a person under the influence of alcohol makes it more of a problem, not less. A cop getting killed or killing someone while responding under the influence – I did not say above the legal limit, but having consumed alcohol – only adds to the system of needing another emergency response. These aren’t the old days of tons of cops and fire fighters being out there. And if there is a second event (from the cop), now the responders are distracted with two.

      Solve the problem by eliminating it.

      I knew you’d be on the side of the drunks. Look in the mirror my friend.

  • MZee

    What? Would we accept a pilot flying a jet to have 0.04%? “in case an officer is called out” – the contract should read “if he is called out and has been consuming alcohol, he should stand down and advise as such”.

    ANY alcohol in the system is affecting judgment. These guys not only drive fast, they carry guns. And the cough syrup bit is a reach – one to protect the drunks on the force.

    I pray the Ohio Supreme Court tosses this absurdity aside.