SPD DUI Squad Officers Reassigned, Cases Scrutinized

The hits just keep on coming.

SPD has reassigned most of its DUI squad after an internal investigation found “supervisory inconsistencies” with squad officers’ reports.

Seattle Police officers respond to hundreds of thousands of calls each year, the overwhelming majority of which are handled professionally and in accordance to department policy.  From time to time, issues surface that require review to ensure best practices are being followed. 

The Seattle Police Department is releasing this statement publicly in direct response to a media inquiry. 

In mid-February 2011, Traffic Captain Belshay began to review some supervisory inconsistencies within the Traffic Section’s DUI squad.  Upon closer examination, it was determined that administrative policy violations were in fact occurring.  

Seattle Police Chief Diaz was briefed and Assistant Chief McDonagh of Special Operations, which oversees Traffic, forwarded this information to the Office of Professional Accountability.  On March 8th an investigation was opened into the conduct of the DUI squad sergeant.  The investigation was broadened into the conduct of three other officers assigned to the DUI squad.

The employees were administratively reassigned on March 16th.  They include a 32-year veteran sergeant, a 23-year veteran officer and two 12-year veteran officers. The last remaining DUI squad officer has not been named in this investigation and remains on normal duty.  

The scope of the investigation at this point focuses on the administrative policy violation of screening all arrests with a supervisor in person, which department policy requires. This investigation is in its infancy.  The scope may change as new information is developed. 

Seattle Police commanders have met with Craig Sims, head of the Criminal Division at the City Attorney’s Office, and advised him of the internal investigation into members of the DUI squad. Seattle Police commanders believe that these concerns are limited to the DUI squad.  

The DUI squad is comprised of one sergeant and four officers and works nighttime hours.  Efforts are underway providing for temporary backfill for these duties while the involved employees are on administrative reassignment.  The crime of Driving Under the Influence is also regularly enforced by on-duty Seattle Police officers outside of the Traffic Section.  DUI enforcement and the safety of citizens on Seattle’s roadways remains a Seattle Police priority.

It’s unclear what kind of impact this will have on DUI squad cases, but the city attorney’s office is expected to issue a statement this afternoon.