The police have had scandal after scandal regarding drunk driving. When off-duty officers are pulled over for DWIs it makes the whole profession look hypocritical at best. The prime example is Dallas Police Officer Erica Montanez, age 25, who was recommended for termination (AKA “fired”) earlier this month as a result of a drunken hit-and-run that took place July 9.
Her car struck another vehicle at a street light on Mockingbird Lane, and after the collision she sped away. The other driver followed her to a nearby gas station where he was able to confront her. She was hostile to both the other motorist and later to police. While no one was seriously injured, Montanez’s conduct endangered the lives of others. Initially she was suspended, but after an internal investigation she was finally recommended for termination. Her police career which began in 2010 has now come to a close.
In the wake of Montanez’s termination and the recent resignation of Fort Worth Police Chief of staff Major Paul Henderson, police departments are considering making changes. Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead told the media that he will be requiring further staff training regarding off-duty drunk driving. FOX 4 reported that Chief Halstead, “has put the word out for his staff to buddy up and look out for each other.”
It’s too soon to tell if these measures will make a positive difference in the Fort Worth Community. There have been 17 Fort Worth police officers arrested for driving drunk or under the influence since 2008. Research shows that drunk driving is partially a product of environment, and in order for the police to see real change there will have to be a cultural shift within the department. Halstead is focusing on raising, “ethics, actions, and expectations” in order to stop off-duty arrests. Police departments have a tough road ahead of them, but with the right training and community involvement they may be able to stop off-duty cops from drinking and driving.