Fort Worth PD Marks One Year DWI Arrest Free

Department not celebrating, but wants to see trend continue

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Fort Worth Police Department is recognizing its first full year an officer has not been arrested on suspicion of DWI after police Chief Jeff Halstead instituted a zero tolerance drinking and driving policy. (Published Friday, Jun 27, 2014)

    It is a milestone for the Fort Worth Police Department, but it's not being celebrated.

    This week marks the first full year since a Fort Worth police officer was last arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.

    Last January, Chief Jeffrey Halstead instituted a zero-tolerance policy for officers caught drinking and driving. The department saw two DWI arrests just two days into 2013, with three more in June.

    "I became almost adamant to the point, that we were going to make it to this day," Halstead said. "But really, I know the men and women and the supervisors, they're the ones who played the key role."

    This day would be 365, a full calendar year since the last arrest. It's something Halstead keeps track of just outside his office door on a white board. It's a number he wants to see grow well into the future. Although, he certainly had his doubts at times, given the problems of years past.

    "I really didn’t think we would get to the point where we would see a complete year," he said. "I just thought it was going to take us longer to change the culture."

    But a year later, the culture has been changed. The chief said there were about a half dozen changes implemented to try and address the problem of officers drinking and driving off-duty. The most notable includes the four hours of mandated alcohol awareness training and the addition of more two-man patrol vehicles.

    "If they get just one shift a week to ride with a partner, ride with a fellow officer, ride with a mentor, I think that really helps them combat the internal stresses when they do this job," Halstead said.

    Halstead said the credit goes to everyone in the department for working together to combat the problem.

    "I knew that the men and women in this department were equally as frustrated as I was," Halstead said on Friday. "It was their patch, it was their image that was being portrayed in such a negative manner."

    Halstead said he has taken some criticism inside the department for the white board tallying the days since the last DWI arrest, but he considers it related to workplace safety. He said large corporations track the date since the last injury on the job and he sees the DWI arrests as being similar.

    He knows officers could make similar mistakes in the future, but he believes they're on the right path.

    "We definitely don't want to see another one, but we have a common understanding, as well as training and services for our employee, that we're taking every step possible we won't see another one," he said.

    The chief said having no DWI arrests is paramount in maintaining the public's trust.

    He said he meets with the family of Sonia Baker every year. Baker was killed by an off-duty Fort Worth police officer in 2009. Halstead said he wants the family to know he will not forget the pain caused to her family by the officer's drinking and driving.