Insiders say citizens have a level of expectation that the officer in the patrol car next to them is sober. Citizens want to know: Is that too much to ask of our sheriff?
It is a pretty agreeable fact that by the time someone has been caught driving drunk they’ve gotten away with it numerous times. (it is likely that driving while intoxicated is habitual behavior for the offender.) On average, a convicted drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before his or her first arrest according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If that is the case, six law enforcement personnel could easily be the tip of the iceberg for Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree.
A number of law enforcement officers from Richmond County have been arrested over the past two years in alcohol related incidences. In November of last year, Sheriff Roundtree looked terribly uncomfortable addressing the issue in a press conference announcing new initiatives to address the problem.
Today Deputy Travis Clark was fired after having been involved in a drunken brawl.
The incident took place at Benson Estates Apartments off of Deans Bridge Road Monday night. The deputy was working a special and when guests didn’t want to leave the pool at the 9 PM closing time, the ensuing chaos resulted in the deputy scuffling with two females, getting shot at in the process.
Deputies responded to the apartment complex in reference to a fight in progress. There they discovered that Deputy Travis Clark had been involved in an altercation with Quasia Turner and Nilkita Turner after he attempted to close the complex pool at 9 p.m. Monday.
Investigators also found a hole in Clark’s shirt and learned that a single shot was fired by Nilkita Turner, with the bullet possibly grazing Clark’s left rib cage. Clark was already on probation for another off-duty incident where alcohol was listed as a contributing factor.
Alcohol impairs judgement and cognitive ability according to the Mayo Clinic.
Since the beginning of last year, the following officers have been arrested while intoxicated, four for driving while drunk, yet all had driven while intoxicated.
Investigator Ryan Jones was off duty, driving drunk in an unmarked county-owned car when he was arrested. He resigned from his job as a Richmond County investigator in the Narcotics Division after the incident.
Deputy Jason McCall was arrested for battery, aggravated assault and cruelty to children in the third degree. He left his Martinez residence going to several bars before returning home very intoxicated and attacking the mother of one of his children while the child was present. While he was not charged with DUI, he clearly was driving drunk.
Last year off duty Investigator Aaron Hannsz was arrested driving drunk in his patrol car.
Then there was Deputy Adam Wade, who drunkenly ran into two parked cars on Broad Street before fleeing the scene.
“…and ran over a speed limit sign before crashing into a culvert.”
And Deputy Eugene Danner, who drove off the road in Columbia County and ran over a speed limit sign before crashing into a culvert.
It was Danner’s third known alcohol related offense.
It appears the sheriff has a cultural problem on his hands. One where alcohol is having a very negative effect on the department. It is unacceptable for one law enforcement officer to get behind the wheel drunk. To have six employees over two years arrested for drunk driving? It points to a department, obviously, out of control.