Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead has made a public vow to fire any officers who drive drunk. In the last two months two officers have been arrested, including Halstead’s Chief of Staff and a DWI enforcement officer. Now, Halstead has decided to take his policies to the next level. In the past an officer suspected of an alcohol-related offense could face a suspension rather than termination. Sometimes the department would not make a decision until after a criminal case was over. Starting now, Halstead plans to make a decision based on an internal investigation rather than wait for a court verdict. If the internal investigation finds the officer guilty, then he or she will be terminated.
Halstead’s new approach can be summed up by this quote, “My message is very, very strong to every person in this organization, sworn or civilian: You cannot drink and drive any longer unless you want to throw your career down the drain.” The Chief will also be reviewing past cases involving officers and told employees to expect his decision to be severe.
Halstead is desperate to create a change within his department. He’s been the Chief for four years, and in that time there have been 14 cops arrested for drunk driving. The most notorious crash resulted in the death of a 27-year-old woman who was the mother of a young child. The victim’s mother, Stella Lopez, was with Halstead at the press conference when he announced his new zero-tolerance style policy. With them was the widow of a Fort Worth police officer who was killed in 2006 by a drunken driver. The war against drunk driving is one which the Fort Worth police are fighting on all fronts.
For Halstead this is the last straw. The department has increased alcohol awareness training, added support groups and made police chaplains available all in an effort to keep officers from turning to alcohol irresponsibly. A more severe punishment is the new hope for preventing officers from drinking and driving.