Chief Jeffrey Halstead of the Fort Worth Police department has had to issue yet another statement about Fort Worth cops who drink and drive. The latest scandal: Officer Nicolas Ramirez. Ramirez was himself a DWI enforcement officer, but his years on the job did not stop him from drinking and driving while off-duty the night of New Year’s Day.
He was stopped around 1 am on Wednesday in Keller after the police noticed he was driving erratically. Ramirez’s car had hit the shoulder repeatedly. After failing a field sobriety test, he took a breathalyzer that showed a blood alcohol level of .188 which is a far cry from the illegal limit of .08. Ramirez was booked that morning, but is now out on bail. The four-year police veteran has been transferred out of the traffic division and is on restricted duty.
The Chief released a statement about how “extremely troubling” Ramirez’s actions were. Halstead should be troubled considering it wasn’t so long ago that he demoted his own Chief of Staff for being arrested for drunk driving. Former Chief of Staff First Major Paul Henderson had been the head of internal affairs earlier in his career. During his tenure in internal affairs and as Chief of Staff, he endorsed and enforced harsh punishments for officers who were caught drinking and driving while off-duty.
The Star Telegram shared some of Henderson’s quotes on drunk driving from before his arrest. Including, “we’ve gone above and beyond in an attempt to educate our employees… the Police Department and specifically Chief Halstead are not going to tolerate this destructive behavior.” Even more embarrassing was the quote, “Let me make clear that accountability starts at the top.” No doubt that during his time as a DWI enforcement officer, Ramirez may have made similar statements to those who he was pulling over. The Fort Worth police department is having trouble cutting down on officer off-duty offenses, but irony they’ve got in spades.
Unfortunately, Ramirez’s actions affect more than the reputation of the Fort Worth police. Ramirez began his brief tenure in the DWI enforcement department in August. Soon more of the cases he was involved in will be coming up for trial, and it doesn’t take a legal genius to see that he could make a poor witness. Tarrant County’s lead DWI prosecutor already told WFAA that the state’s going to have a real hard time using him as a witness.
A Few Triumphs
The police didn’t completely botch New Year’s. Tarrant County police made 30 arrests in the wider county area and 9 in Fort Worth. Arlington’s arrest numbers haven’t been reported yet, but Dallas clocked in at the following for the December 21 to January 1 holiday period:
- 25 misdemeanor DWI arrests
- 1 DWI 3rd felony arrest
- 2 DWI with child in vehicle arrests
- 3 DUI minor arrests
The numbers, at least in Fort Worth, are very different from last year. Last year saw 78 Tarrant County arrests instead of this year’s 30. Fort Worth arrests were down by 24. Hopefully this is a result of less drunk driving over the holidays. No-refusal holiday periods are designed to act as a deterrent. Maybe this year it really did keep potential offenders from acting irresponsibly.
That being said, there were New Year’s Eve and Day accidents that left others injured including one Dallas firefighter.
Dallas Firefighter Hit in Double-Drunk-Driver Accident
First a call came in early Tuesday morning telling police there was a car crash on 75 North near Coit. When officers and emergency responders arrived, there was no car accident that they could see. They did find a woman on the side of the road who appeared stranded. The police where speaking with her when the first wreck occurred.
Another car driven by a suspected drunk driver smashed into the parked patrol car. You would think that a patrol car with its sirens flashing and a large fire truck would be hard to miss even for a drunk driver, but you would be wrong. Luckily, no one was hurt in the initial collision. The fire truck, also referred to as a ladder truck, moved to block the road in order to protect the already frazzled police.
Not fifteen minutes later a pickup driven by 32-year-old John Bryson smashed into the very conspicuous fire truck. Unsurprisingly, Bryson is suspected of being intoxicated and has already been arrested. Bryson’s actions not only injured himself but hurt a firefighter who was in the ladder truck. The firefighter was hospitalized in unknown condition. The extent of his injuries is not clear at this time. In this case, we can only hope that no news is good news.
The End of Peak Season
As the holidays come to a close, there’s much to be grateful for. Everyone is looking forward to an exciting new year. One of the first things we can do in 2013 is breathe a sigh of relief. At last the 2012 holiday season is over, and drunk driving incidents should be back on the decline until the next holiday.