This article was submitted to CopBlock.org by Joe. It originally appeared on Boston.com
No one could dispute that it was an awkward situation. A Boston police officer pulls over a driver who has been drinking, and he turns out to be the police commissioner’s son.
Those who study policing, however, differ on the officer’s decision Monday night to drive Philip Davis, the son of Commissioner Edward F. Davis, home, rather than arrest him.
Eugene O’Donnell, a professor of law and police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said the officer’s career is in the hands of the commissioner, making an already difficult policing decision even thornier.
“It’s not unequivocal that you have to make an arrest, but it’s close,” said O’Donnell. “Anything you say about this is colored by the fact that you were told who this young man is.”
But several people said that driving home suspected drunk drivers is not as unusual as it may seem. Officers have wide latitude to decide whether to arrest.
They caution, however, that showing leniency in such cases can have unintended consequences.
Officers can be held liable if the driver they drop off at home or put in a taxi gets into a fight or gets behind the wheel of another car and kills someone.
In the case involving Davis, the officer’s decision has raised questions about whether the son received unusually favorable treatment.
Philip Davis was about to drive home from the TD Garden, where he had gone with his girlfriend. But a Boston police officer, who was told by a passerby that Davis appeared to be drunk as he got into his truck, stopped the young man as he drove his blue pickup out of a downtown parking garage.
According to a police report, the officer learned that Davis had been drinking, but was unsure he was impaired and gave the young man and his girlfriend a ride home. Davis left his truck in the garage.
I’m all for keeping drunken drivers off the road and it’s obvious that throwing people in cages, confiscating their licenses and robbing them of thousands of dollars has not been effective in keeping seriously roaring drunk individuals from driving. (Though it has been pretty handy for many community fund’s bottom line).
On the other hand, if you are stopped too soon after you’ve had your second beer, you could be subjected to the above. Unless of course you’re related to the police commissioner…jajones;ed