Loveland Police Department plans outside review of DUI enforcement program – Loveland Reporter-Herald
The Loveland Police Department will soon undergo another outside review of its policies and procedures, this time focusing on the DUI enforcement program.
Department heads announced at a press conference on Monday afternoon that the LPD will soon undergo an outside review of the LPD DUI enforcement program. According to deputy chief and future acting chief Eric Stewart, the department will undertake a professional review that will include policies and procedures, overall strategy, status and results of current and recent enforcement efforts.
Chief Bob Ticer said that at this time it is not known who will conduct this professional review or when exactly it will happen, but added that it will happen soon.
“I know it’s a top priority for (Stewart) and the city manager,” he said.
Stewart said the move comes after the department recently received criticism over past drunk driving cases, adding that the critics are members of a “defense bar” who represent drivers who have been charged. and some who eventually passed blood tests following DUI arrests. He also said that while the department often looks internally for similar complaints, a “recent litigation” ended Internal Affairs’ investigation into “an incident.”
“Part of our responsibility to protect our community is to keep impaired drivers off the road,” he said. “They are a danger to themselves and to others. Because questions have been raised about our enforcement efforts, we want to confirm that the Loveland Police Department is committed to best practices, and we’re willing to verify our work by launching a professional review of our DUI program.
Stewart said the department could not comment on specific cases, especially those involving civil litigation.
Although he did not name anyone involved, local attorney Sarah Schielke had previously filed a wrongful DUI complaint against the department and one of its officers on behalf of Fort Collins resident Harris Elias, who was discontinued in early 2020.
Schielke is expected to file an amended lawsuit against the department soon. The amended lawsuit includes information about other people who claim to have been wrongfully arrested by the LPD as well as more information about the LPD culture surrounding DUI enforcement.
Ticer also spoke Monday about DUI enforcement training for LPD officers, saying officers receive the “highest level of impaired driving training so they can do the best job possible in the limits of being a human being”.
He said all officers undergo a mandatory standard field sobriety test as well as advanced roadside impaired driving enforcement, with some officers undergoing drug recognition expert training; these officers, he said, are called in to assist other officers with potential impaired driving arrests.
He said that while some in the community may hear of cases where someone is tested and blows a blood alcohol level of 0.000% or a low number close to zero, “the bottom line is that we are looking for people who are impaired to a lesser degree. ”
“There are intoxicated people who don’t have alcohol in their system, but it takes highly trained officers to identify it,” he added.
Ticer also added that following arrests, the case is referred to the criminal justice system where the district attorney’s office makes the decision whether to proceed with a case or not, saying “all days” cases are dismissed.
“It happens,” he said. “It does not mean that the arrested person was wrongfully or illegally arrested. There is reasonable suspicion, probable case, beyond a reasonable doubt – that’s how the system works.
Ticer added, however, that he fully supports the review of the department’s policies and procedures on DUI enforcement, saying there are always opportunities for improvement.
The department also brought in Melissa Myers, mother of Gavin Myers who was killed nearly four years ago after being hit by a drunk driver, to talk about the importance of DUI enforcement.
During her speech, she said Gavin’s family will continue to ask for support for tougher penalties to keep non-violent criminals, including those convicted of driving homicide or DUIs, off the streets.
“No family should have to experience the trauma that our family continues to face every time a suspected impaired driving story is released locally, regionally or nationally,” she said. “Our family was sentenced to life without our son. We will not stop impaired driving, distraction or alcohol until we recognize as a community and as a nation (that) drivers, whether licensed or not , intentionally get into their vehicle with little or no concern for the safety of others on our roads or walkways and their vehicles become instant weapons.
After Monday afternoon’s press conference, Schielke called the event “a spectacle.” In an email to the Reporter-Herald, Schielke said that rather than apologizing for “charging innocent civilians with DUI crimes”, the LPD “chose to exploit the victims’ losses of drunk driving to try to declare that the end justifies the means”.
“The end does not justify the means,” she writes. “Falsely accusing innocent citizens of crimes they did not commit in order to obtain literal rewards, funding and trophies is an indefensible practice. And yet Loveland defends it, having the audacity today to tell us that it is for our good.
The entire press conference can be found on the city’s YouTube page.