Does the public have the right to know if a police officer has been disciplined for alcohol-related offenses? The Detroit News says a judge will wrestle with that question — as well as whether fellow officers are obligated to report an officer’s suspected drinking problem — in a Macomb County, Mi., courtroom next month. On Dec. 13, Judge Deborah Servitto will hear a request from a police union to deny the release of Sterling Heights police investigation documents of one officer’s alleged alcohol abuse. The Michigan Association of Police argues that federal privacy rules prevent disclosure of the documents. “The specific officer for whom records are sought has been in treatment for a condition covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act,” the union says.
A Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was filed with the city by attorney Fred Gibson, who said he got involved after other police officers approached him. “It took a lot of courage for these officers to come forward (to me) because of possible retribution (from other officers),” said Gibson, himself a former police officer. Gibson’s FOIA asks for all internal affairs investigations involving the officer “in which it was determined that the employee had engaged in wrongdoing … related to alcohol consumption.”