143 In A 55 Zone: Drunk Denver Cop, Fired, Wants Job Back

derrick saunders speeding cop firedYou have to say this for Derrick Curtis Saunders, he's got gumption. The former Denver police officer is petitioning to be reinstated after being fired from his job for driving a friend's car at speeds of more than 140 mph while impaired by alcohol.

Saunders pleaded guilty to charges of driving while impaired and reckless driving, but contends
that his dismissal is unfair and overly harsh, according to The Denver Post. In addition to losing his job, Saunders was sentenced to five days in jail, fined $300 and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service, according to court records.

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Saunders was arrested June 17, 2010, after a Colorado State Patrol officer clocked him going 143 mph in a 55 mph zone. The arresting officer also found Saunders blood alcohol level to be 0.089, above the legal limit of 0.08.

In the order terminating Saunders, city safety manager Alex Martinez wrote, "The extraordinary high speed alone is stunning. The fact that you drove at this dangerous speed while your ability to drive was impaired by alcohol is shocking."

Martinez also noted that Saunders was driving at night and had a passenger in the vehicle.

According to the Post's report, Saunders' appeal to the Denver Civil Service Commission asserts that Martinez's findings and penalties are "unfounded and/or unsupported by the facts" and violate principles of fundamental fairness.

The appeal, filed by the Denver Police Protective Association's lawyers, argues that the punishment is disproportionate, excessive and punitive.

A call to Saunders' listed home phone revealed the number had been disconnected. He started working for the force in 2007.

Martinez told KCNC-TV last month that if Saunders is reinstated the city's disciplinary code may need to be revised.

AOL Jobs reporter Claire Gordon contributed to this report.


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David Schepp

Staff Writer

David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.

Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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