1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Sheriff not arrested for DUI

Discussion in 'Legal' started by griz, Jan 30, 2004.

  1. griz

    griz Well-Known Member

    Believe it or not I'm not trying to start a cop bashing thread. My hope is to point out the dual standards of conduct ultimately will hurt support for LEOs.

    Sheriff’s actions spur talk of recall

    Sheriff Gary W. Waters .
    By AMY JETER AND MEGHAN HOYER, The Virginian-Pilot
    © January 30, 2004
    PORTSMOUTH — City offices have been flooded with calls this week from people who say they are outraged that Sheriff Gary W. Waters was caught speeding and was suspected of driving drunk but was not arrested.

    The mayor’s office has received 114 phone calls on the topic since Tuesday, and the voter registrar’s office has fielded at least 40 calls in the past two days. City Council members and the commonwealth’s attorney’s office also have been contacted.

    Many callers want to know what they can do to remove Waters from the elected post he has held for more than 20 years. Others want him to be fired or to face some justice.

    “Two things are sure: They’re not happy with the situation, and they’re not happy with the sheriff,†said Bill Prince, spokesman for the commonwealth’s attorney.

    Waters was stopped early on Dec. 27 for speeding on a stretch of George Washington Highway. He showed signs that he had been drinking, but he refused to undergo a breath or field sobriety test and “was not being very polite,†according to authorities.

    The sheriff called an assistant police chief, who police say declined to talk to him. He also was allowed to call for a ride home.

    The police chief and commonwealth’s attorney have said that the decisions of officers at the scene made it impossible to prosecute a DUI case, and no charges have been brought. Police have said the incident resulted in a policy change and that the officers are unlikely to be disciplined.

    Waters issued a written apology Wednesday, saying his “behavior was inappropriate†and that he was sorry if his actions brought embarrassment to the police department. He called upon Portsmouth citizens to remember what he has contributed to the city. He has not commented further.

    Waters is responsible for overseeing courthouse security and the Portsmouth City Jail, which houses an average of about 500 inmates. His department employs 177 people and has a budget of about $11 million. His annual salary is about $101,000.

    During the years, Waters has instituted community services programs, such as free funeral escorts and a school drug prevention program taught by deputies.

    But now, some citizens are telling officials that the apology was not enough to atone for his actions last month.

    City Councilwoman Marlene Randall said she had received more than a dozen faxes and calls at home and hadn’t checked her e-mail yet.

    “What I’m getting from people is a sense of outrage,†Randall said. “They’re really very disturbed that two major infractions occurred with no consequences. There should be some way to penalize him.â€

    A spokeswoman from the Sheriff’s Office would not give the number and nature of the calls there.

    Portsmouth’s general registrar, Deloris M. Overton, said callers want to know how to oust the sheriff.

    According to Virginia law, citizens can petition for an elected officer to be removed for neglect of duty, misuse of office or incompetence.

    The petition must be signed by 10 percent of the number of people who voted for that office in the last election.

    In the 2001 Portsmouth sheriff’s race, 25,569 people voted. A petition for Waters’ removal would require signatures from 2,557 registered voters in Portsmouth.

    A completed petition would be filed with the Circuit Court, and the elected officer would be asked to provide the court with a reason he or she should not be removed.

    There would then be a trial to determine whether the official will keep the office.

    Waters, 59, won about 71 percent of the vote when he was elected to his sixth four-year term in November 2001. He is chairman of the city’s Democratic Party. The next election for sheriff is in 2005.

    In the late 1990s, a Portsmouth government reform group attempted to force out then-Commonwealth’s Attorney Martin Bullock by petitioning for his removal.

    That effort died after a registrar determined that the petition did not have enough signatures, and a visiting judge eventually ruled that Circuit Court was not the proper jurisdiction.

    A different process was used to remove Mayor James W. Holley III in 1987.

    That process falls under the city charter and involves putting the question of removal to voters in a recall election. Holley was re-elected mayor in 1996.

    News researchers Maureen Watts and Ann Kinken Johnson contributed to this report.

    Reach Amy Jeter at 446-2793 or amy.jeter@pilotonline.com Reach Meghan Hoyer at 446-2293 or meghan.hoyer@pilotonline.com

    Link to the story
  2. Chaz

    Chaz Well-Known Member

    Nothing new. Similar events happened in my area just this year. One was a local municipal police chief who refused breathalyzer but only had his drivers license suspended for about 40 days and never prosicuted. Another involved a police detective who was involved in a DUI MVA (No injuries) and the paperwork that goes to the local DA was "lost" until it was too late to prosicute the case.

    There was outrage and many news stories and letters to the editor but nothing was ever done and everybody now has seem to forgotten it. Sad.

    The good-ol-boy system applies to every profession apparantly.
  3. Tim Burke

    Tim Burke Well-Known Member

    What's the law on this in VA? I seem to recall that in GA, one could refuse a BAC determination, but doing so brought an automatic license suspension.
    Maybe they can't bring a DUI case, but that may not be their only option for prosecution.
  4. Hkmp5sd

    Hkmp5sd Well-Known Member

    Yep. Many stories out there...

    A nearby city manager was stopped by an officer and suspected to be DUI. The city manager calls the police chief, who drives to the scene and tells the officer to resume his patrol. The chief drives the city manager home. During the uproar that followed, the chief said he'd drive anyone home that *might* be under the influence of alcohol and shouldn't drive. When the newpaper asked him how many other times he'd gotten out of bed, drove across town and then taken someone home, he couldn't think of any other names to tell them. He retired shortly aftwerward, as did the city manager.
  5. griz

    griz Well-Known Member

    From what they are saying on the radio the charge of refusal (to take the test) is already out the window because of the way the officers handled it. Not very forthcoming as to the details.
  6. Roadkill Coyote

    Roadkill Coyote Well-Known Member

    I don't know about Virginia, but here in Colorado in order to revoke someone for refusal, the officer has to have probable cause to believe that the driver was to some degree impaired, and then they have to refuse a test. If Virginia uses the same standard, the guy's lawyer just has to say, "well, officer X, if you had probable cause why didn't you arrest or even cite my client?" at the revocation hearing and you can put a fork in it.
  7. cordex

    cordex Well-Known Member

    I agree, Griz. Sadly, sometimes even being critical of an individual bad action by police is misconstrued by some to be the rantings of someone who hates all police.

    This kind of apparent double standard in enforcement leads to a lot of questions as to the integrity of the officers in that department.
  8. Spot77

    Spot77 Well-Known Member

    "“What I’m getting from people is a sense of outrage,†Randall said. “They’re really very disturbed that two major infractions occurred with no consequences. There should be some way to penalize him.†"

    Gee Randall, let's punish him prior to conviction why don't we?

    Do ya' think this lady is good at witch hunts?
  9. greyhound

    greyhound Well-Known Member

    What about Al Gore's son, who was apparently "issued a citation" for DUI.

    I will relate a not-proud-of-story from my past: 8 years ago my roomate, a local county cop, myself and 2 friends were coming back from a hockey game, drunk as pagans. My cop friend was driving, and we were pulled over by a Laurel, MD officer. He approached very defiantly and asked why we were weaving. My buddy pulled his badge (actually an ID card) slurred "I'm a cop" and the other officer said "Have a good night", turned heel and walked away.

    Like I said, we were young and stupid, but I will never forget that as long as I live.
  10. Bob Locke

    Bob Locke Well-Known Member

    I lived in Portsmouth for about 10 years, and had a few occasions to deal with Sheriff Waters.

    He's as arrogant an S.O.B. as you'll run across. Definitely a fine example of someone who abuses his office. To say that this does not surprise me would be an understatement.

    And it's not the first time, either. He damaged his departmental vehicle while driving impaired several years ago, but nothing was ever done or said about it because of who he is.

    Same old, same old.
  11. griz

    griz Well-Known Member

    Here's an update for anyone interested. After a hugh public outcry, and some calls for him to step down, Sheriff Waters agreed to plead guilty to DUI. He was fined and his DL suspended for a year.

    I can't get the link to work but it's in the Virginia Pilot if you would like to see it.

    Also today (Virginia's primary is tomorrow) he resigned as the local head of the democratic campaign. I heard that on TV, haven't seen it in the paper yet.
  12. Jonesy9

    Jonesy9 member

    when that happens around here, the police or fire dept spends money on a driver for them. great way to pad people's OT. Responsible tax payers may want to appear before city council and make sure that the Chief pays for his drivers out of his own pockets and doesn't bill the extra costs of his infraction to the town.

Share This Page