City to re-examine public safety alcohol policy after cop drunk driving arrest

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INDIANAPOLIS – Public Safety Director Troy Riggs has directed his entire department to re-examine its adherence to the city’s alcohol-related policies for city employees while another IMPD officer is charged with a drunk driving offense.

Capt. Mark Rice was arrested early Sunday morning on the city’s westside by Indianapolis International Airport police who spotted the IMPD veteran’s car as it ran up onto the median at West Washington Street and I-465.

The police report records that Rice’s eyes were bloodshot and watery and that the officer slurred his speech and failed some roadside sobriety tests.

Rice was taken to Eskanazi Hospital for a blood draw which confirmed a blood alcohol level commensurate with the charge of Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated.

Rice’s arrest marks the third time in the last month that an IMPD officer has been investigated for alcohol-related issues.

“I am very disappointed by the amount that we have had violating the policy,” said Public Safety Director Troy Riggs, “but I can assure you, I know Chief Hite and his staff are going to be very diligent in following up on this and following up on the disciplinary action.”

Earlier this month IMPD Officer Brian Neal was arrested after arriving at the Southeast District headquarters in uniform while driving his patrol car under the influence of alcohol. Neal tested at .21% blood alcohol content. He faces termination.

Several days later another IMPD officer was pulled off the firing line at the department’s gun range before he tested positive for alcohol in his system. The amount was so minute that the officer does not face a criminal charge.

“This is the first time in my career I’ve seen this many officers in this short of time,” said Riggs, a veteran of three police departments during a two-decade long career. “The only good part about this I can say is that supervisors are taking appropriate action and we’re taking steps to make sure people understand we are not tolerating this.”

Riggs said in addition to a review of all DPS divisions and a department-wide commitment to the city’s policy, he is also considering the range of penalties that now apply to violators.

Rice faces a maximum 30 day suspension though a reduction in rank is possible. He remains on administrative duty pending possible suspension by Chief Rick Hite.

Neal could be marked for termination as his violation occurred on duty.

“Members are prohibited from having any alcohol of other intoxicant or controlled substance in their blood while on duty or off duty while in uniform,” reads an IMPD General Order adopted in February of 2011, seven months after Officer David Bisard killed a motorcyclist with his patrol car in a drunk driving crash. “No alcohol is permitted in a department owned vehicle.”

“Let me be clear,” said Riggs, “there is a line that once you cross it you can’t go back and when you show up to work intoxicated, that is something you have to face the likelihood of termination.”

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