Drunken Police Officer Not Charged With DWI
If you fall asleep behind the wheel of your car at 2 am at a major intersection and don’t move when the light changes, you are most likely to face a DWI charge.
However, that is not what happened in the case of Jeffrey A. Lancaster, of Galloway Township, who was involved in a similar situation on Feb. 17, 2011, at the intersection of Tilton, Mill and Shore roads in Northfield.
When Lancaster failed to move his car, a police officer, who happened to be driving several cars behind his car, came up to investigate. The officer banged the driver’s side window, shook the car before he finally roused. After that, the officer determined that Lancaster was “highly intoxicated”.
But what’s outrageous about the incident is that Lancaster was never charged with drunken driving or any other criminal violation, simply because he is an Egg Harbor Township police officer. Lancaster was never charged for the crime, nor held in custody. Moreover, the Northfield police called Egg Harbor Township police and arranged for an EHT supervisor to drive Lancaster home.
Such a situation is called professional courtesy by the cops, whereas others call it the blue code of silence. Whatever people might say, it is actually a violation of the oath every police officer takes when they join the force. Police officers are supposed to uphold the law when they become an officer, but Lancaster’s case is in total violation to the oath.
The law never says anything about protecting fellow officers who break the law.
The incident could have stayed in the dark and not come into the public notice at all, had it not been for the dogged efforts of John Paff, the chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party’s Police Accountability Project, who sued to get the public records regarding this incident.
A report by the Egg Harbor Township internal police was finally released which stated that Lancaster was staggering drunk that night. EHT Sgt. Michael T. Hughes drove Lancaster home.
The report stated that Lancaster admitted violating several departmental rules and was disciplined. However, he remains an officer and was never charged with drunken driving. Moreover, the Northfield officers were absolved of any wrongdoing after an internal affairs investigation when they did not charge Lancaster with a DWI.
Had it been anyone else in the same position, they would have been charged immediately.
Police officers often have the urge to protect their own because they only have each other when they face violence on the streets, which is commendable. But the minute a police officer puts another officer above the law, there is cause for concern. It only brings disgrace and undermines the respect that they need to do their job for which they took an oath.
News Source: www.PressofAtlanticCity.com