St. Louis Chief Drives Police Car While Drinking; Should He?

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Almost every Thursday after work, interim St. Louis Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole drives his department-issued SUV to Failoni’s, a favorite local restaurant, for pizza and beer. It’s a long-standing ritual, he says. And it’s one that points to a gap in city policies, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Police officials with the rank of captain and above are allowed to drive their take-home vehicles for personal use. Department policy is silent on the issue of drinking and driving a police car while off duty, but City Personnel Director Richard Frank said, “To me, it does not seem appropriate to go into a bar, have a drink, get into a city vehicle and drive off; that’s not exercising good judgment.”

City rules regarding city-owned vehicles prohibit police, firefighters, corrections officers, park rangers and deputy marshals from consuming alcohol “while operating a motor vehicle or heavy machinery,” whether on or off duty. “Commanders are on call 24/7 and we’re also human and we’ve got to eat dinner, and I’m not going to say I haven’t had a few beers,” Chief O’Toole said. “But if that’s a concern of the personnel director, and we need to tighten a policy, then that’s what we’ll have to do.”

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