DWI HIT PARADE / Charles County Sheriff Detective Jack Austin charged with DUI on Christmas Eve in Bowie
Detective was driving his police car on the City of Bowie bike path and was armed with his duty weapon at the time of the arrest
BOWIE, MD. — As St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron wrestles with how to handle the recent DUI crash and arrest which involved one of his deputies and a correctional officer while on a mission in Talbot County to learn how to carry caskets for official funerals; Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry has to worry about an important criminal case being affected by the DUI arrest of one of his detectives in Prince George’s County.
After a reported Christmas Eve stopover at a bar in Bowie, Charles County Detective Young Jack Austin, 43, of Pomfret, Md., was arrested for DUI by a City of Bowie Police Officer while he drove an official police vehicle, a 2008 Chevrolet with Maryland tag number 14364M5 on Hindle Lane, in Bowie, Md.
The driver was located and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. It was also learned at this time that the driver was an off-duty Charles County Sheriff Deputy and the vehicle was his issued unmarked cruiser.
The following is the report from the Bowie Police:
SYNOPSIS OF INCIDENT:
On 12/23/16, Units responded to the area of Hindle Lane for an unknown trouble. Once in the area, Units discovered a vehicle on the bike path from Holiday Lane at Old Collington Rd. It was then determined to be an accident. The driver was located and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. It was also learned at this time that the driver was an off-duty Charles County Sheriff Deputy and the vehicle was his issued unmarked cruiser. Sgt. Rodriguez made notifications to C.C.S.D. and Sgt. Celia responded to the Bowie Police Station. After failing Field Sobriety Tests, the driver was transported to PGPD District 2 where he refused a breath test. He was then transported to the Bowie Police Station and charged. His duty weapon was surrendered to Sgt. Celia. The accident was a single vehicle accident with no injuries.
Charles County Sheriff’s Spokesperson Diane Richardson confirmed to THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY that Detective Austin is on paid leave pending the outcome of the charges and internal investigation.
Court records do not recite any pending court date in District Court for Prince George’s County perhaps due to the involvement of Detective Austin in a high-profile criminal trial currently underway.
It is unknown if Detective Austin was part of the ‘Shop with a Cop’ program on Christmas Eve or if he was simply getting a few holiday drinks with a cop in Bowie. The Bowie Police Department provided a video of their Chief participating in the ‘Shop with a Cop’
Detective Austin was honored by Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry in October of 2016, at an awards ceremony.
Sheriff Troy Berry was elected in 2014.
Sheriff Berry posted the following about Detective Austin on the Charles County Sheriff’s website:
Detective / Corporal Jack Austin – Law Enforcement
Detective Austin is assigned to the Major Crimes Unit of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office. For this award, Detective Austin was recognized for his investigative efforts into the attempted murder and brutal physical and sexual assault of a woman in La Plata by her boyfriend, who was the father of the woman’s young son. The details of this incident were horrific and beyond comprehension to police officers and prosecutors alike.
For approximately five hours, the victim was bound, tortured, and assaulted – which included a period of time the suspect pushed several of the victims’ teeth out of her mouth, one-by-one, with his thumb.
For approximately five hours, the victim was bound, tortured, and assaulted – which included a period of time the suspect pushed several of the victims’ teeth out of her mouth, one-by-one, with his thumb. The victim was eventually able to convince her attacker to let her use the bathroom. Only then was she able to escape through a window. The investigation was assigned to Detective Austin, who worked tirelessly on the case to ensure the suspect was prosecuted to the fullest extent. At his trial, the suspect was found guilty and was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years.
Since the attack, Det. Austin has maintained contact with the victim and has been a valuable resource to her, even during his off-duty time. The victim credits Detective Austin, among others, with helping her turn her life around and move in a positive direction. For his exceptional work on this and every domestic case he investigates, Detective Austin was awarded the Making a Difference Award in the Law Enforcement category.
TOP COP JACK AUSTIN BROKE THIS CASE
On May 10, 2014, Charles County sheriff’s officers assigned to the Warrant Unit located Stephen Dale Nolan, 38, of La Plata, who was wanted in connection with a brutal assault of a female acquaintance that occurred on May 8, 2014. Nolan was located in Hughesville after investigators developed information about his possible whereabouts and tracked down all leads until he was found. Nolan was charged with first-degree assault, second-degree assault, first-degree sex offense, second-degree sex offense and other charges.
POLICE AGENCIES WRESTLE WITH DUI OFFICER PROBLEM
Many law enforcement agencies generally have at least one such DUI arrest of an officer in any given year, some of which involve fatal crashes. Police officers have as much, or perhaps much more stress on the job than many other professions which often leads to alcoholism. While there are those officers in law enforcement who clearly exhibit arrogance, and decide to drive after drinking, many make the same mistake as others do in life and simply make a bad decision. While the public supports the police in overwhelming numbers, the public also supports sobriety checkpoints in overwhelming numbers as most folks simply want to get home alive and not be killed by a DUI driver.
The nationwide DWI HIT PARADE has chronicled the arrests of 290 police officers for driving under the influence since 2011. Other occupations are listed as well, including politicians, celebrities, fire and ems personnel, judges and lawyers, clergy, educators, and news reporters and editors.
A 2013 study by Bowling Green State University on what happens when a police officer is arrested for DUI while on duty provides one of the few glimpses that have been chronicled on the topic.
This segment of the study focused on news coverage of the DUI Police Officer scandals, stories that were over the top in nature, due mostly to the explosive nature of the events rather than a simple arrest on the side of the road.
Below is an excerpt of the study:
Scandals involving law enforcement officers who drive drunk run counter to the widely-recognized slogans of police-sponsored public service campaigns to promote sober driving: “Drive sober or get pulled over, “…”Over the limit, under arrest, “…”Drink, drive, go to jail” (Governors Highway Safety Association 2012, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 2012, Texas Department of Transportation 2012). One scandal involved an intoxicated officer who joined a high-speed pursuit and rammed his patrol car into three motorcyclists stopped at a red light. Charges including reckless homicide were eventually dropped in part because of a botched investigation that also ultimately led to the police chief’s resignation (Indianapolis Star 2012). Another case involved a drunken police commander who crashed into a second vehicle, left the scene, and then helped to stage a phony accident to cover-up the initial crash. Blood-alcohol tests were not conducted at the scene, even though the commander’s speech was slurred, he smelled of alcohol, and he had wet his pants (Fazlollah 2001, Banks 2013). Another scandal involved a police lieutenant arrested—but not convicted—for driving under the influence three separate times over a seven-month period. He was finally convicted on a DUI charge that resulted from a fourth arrest that occurred three months later (Castaneda 2008, Davis 2008).
The problem of police officers driving drunk may be far more under-reported since on-duty officers may or may not arrest another police officer for driving under the influence. In the cases of those police officers arrested for DUI, the arrest would not have taken place were it not that the arresting officer was doing his or her job properly.
Police DUI’s have the potential to substantially weaken public trust and the legitimacy of strategies designed to mitigate drunk driving because the drunk driver in these cases is among those expected to enforce DUI laws and protect society from drivers who are intoxicated. Recent evidence suggests that the problem may be exacerbated by officers and agencies that minimize—and in some cases purposively ignore—the problem of drunk driving among police.
A Bureau of Justice Statistics survey reported that over one-third of responding state and local police agencies would consider police applicants with a prior DUI conviction (Reaves 2012). Likewise, a majority of officers responding to a survey on police integrity said they would not report a fellow officer who had a minor traffic accident while driving under the influence of alcohol (Klockars et al. 2000). Recent journalistic investigations in Milwaukee (Barton 2011), Denver (McGhee 2011), and New York City (Paddock and Lesser 2010) reported disturbing cases in which police found to have driven drunk were either not arrested and/or otherwise minimally punished. The tendency of officers and at least some police executives to disregard police DUI’s limits the potential for research and the availability of data on the problem, and also inhibits the development of strategies to identify, punish, and deter drunk driving among police officers.