Denver Cop, Fired For Speeding While Drunk, May Get Job Back

drunk cop gets job back

A Denver cop who was fired after being arrested two years ago for driving more than twice the speed limit, and while drunk, may soon have his job back, following a ruling in his favor by the city's Civil Service Commission. But the city's safety manager is vowing to fight the decision.

Officer Derrick Saunders was arrested in June 2010 after the Colorado State Patrol 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.

Saunders pleaded guilty to charges of reckless driving and driving while impaired, and was sentenced to five days in jail. But he fought a Dec. 7 order terminating him, contending that the discharge was unfair and overly harsh.

On Tuesday, the Civil Service Commission agreed with Saunders and the union representing him, saying that the officer should receive a 42-day suspension and not be fired, The Denver Post reports.

Denver's manager of safety, Alex J. Martinez, who fired Saunders, said in a statement that the commission, comprised of three labor attorneys, misinterpreted codes of discipline that govern such offenses by law-enforcement officers.

Martinez wrote that the commission's ruling "undermines civilian authority to manage the police, and uses the concept of consistent discipline to confine the department to the distant past, when courts punished drunk driving with small fines."

Martinez also requested that the commission stay the order reinstating Saunders and reverse its "misguided" decision.

An official with the Police Protective Association said the rules, known as a discipline matrix, stipulate that, for an offense such as the one Saunders committed, a suspension of 38 to 42 days is the mandated punishment.

"The discipline matrix clearly states that this offense was not a termination case and the officer should and is being held accountable by the civil service commission, according to the discipline matrix," the Post quotes union vice president Lt. Vincent Gavito as saying.

Denver's chief of police disagrees, telling Denver TV station KUSA that the decision is a blow to the integrity of law enforcement.

"It really compromises, and is a credibility issue for the many officers that are out there doing their job right and doing the right thing every single day," Chief Robert White said. "And it's a black eye that we just simply don't need."

Saunders, who became a Denver police officer in 2007, was accused in 2009 of pulling a gun on employees at a suburban McDonald's drive-thru window for not filling an order quickly enough. A jury acquitted Saunders of two charges related to the incident in 2010.

The ruling in favor of Saunders isn't the first controversial ruling rendered by the commission. As the alternative weekly newspaper, Westword, notes, the panel last November reinstated two officers fired for beating a bystander while he used a cellphone and two other officers who were discharged after they engaged in a car chase after they were told not to.

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Buddy Last

just another dirty ass cop who thinks he is above the law that he says we have to obey or ELSE.dirty cops look after dirty cops they keep it all in the family except they don't tell us their one of the biggest crime family's in the country.but tn cops have done worse then that cop did and they get medals in tn for their wrongs.but nothing we can do about it or would it do any good to CALL A COP mmmm i have to think about that.

July 11 2012 at 10:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What the f#@% is wrong with this country !

June 14 2012 at 1:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to me's comment

Political Correctness. Nobody is responsible for their actions and no consequences for bad decisions. In fact, reward bad decisions. Need I say more?

July 03 2012 at 1:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think we need to set precident here. Hang all involved!

May 30 2012 at 9:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This guy sounds like he has a history of making very bad choice's....Re-instating him fall's right into place with all of the other ignorance going on in this country right now.

May 30 2012 at 7:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Time to fire the people on the Civil Service Commission and get some that have some brains on there. And throw that "matrix" out while they're at it! Ridiculous!

May 24 2012 at 5:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There you go. Cops can do anything and get away with it. If that was you or me. We would be in jail for way more then 5 days. Plus we wouldn't be aloud to drive for at least a year. Thats not counting probation, drunk school, and the other stuff they throw in with it. Have you ever met an honest cop? Heck no. And never will.

May 24 2012 at 5:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The thing I hate Most is Were Not able to Sue Cops or District Attorneys & that's why they Get away with Abusing People & Crimes & Giving people tickets for no Real Reason & Arresting Innocent People I feel if a Person gets Arrested & Put in Jail & Proves his or her Innocents then that Person should automatically get $100.000 & the Cops who arrested that Person Fired as well as The District Attorney for trying to Rail Road & Convict a Innocent Person --

May 24 2012 at 5:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nothing New Here ---District Attorneys & Judges & Cops Stick up & Back Cops in whatever Crimes they may Commit --And Cops don't Even Trust each other if they Did why would they Need Locks on their Lockers in the Police Dept --HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

May 24 2012 at 5:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

FIRE HIM!!!!!, what an embarrassment to that department, his family, community. Another rogue cop getting away with a crime.

May 24 2012 at 4:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

who say's crime does'nt pay ! someone tell me how driving drunk at 150 mph only gets you a 5 day trip to jail !

May 24 2012 at 2:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to canduit14u's comment

having a badge is how that works. You or me pull that stunt and we'll get 5 days plus a few weeks or months more on top of that plus an ass beatin once we are stopped for 'resisting'. The police and DA are hell bent on bending everyone over for these things yet when one of them does it they suddenly feel it isn't necessary to do everything they can to ruin the person's life.

May 24 2012 at 3:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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