A recent investigative report done by NBC Chicago indicates that several suburban Chicago police departments allow their officers to work with substantial amounts of alcohol in their systems. Some suburban Chicago police forces even have alcohol limits written into their employment contracts which forbid agencies from disciplining officers with blood alcohol levels as high as 0.08 percent.
Elmwood Park and Oak Park allow officers to work as long as they are below the state definition of legally drunk, or .08 percent. Officers in Forest Park, Glendale Heights, and South Barrington have a limit of 0.05 percent.
Studies have shown that individuals with any alcohol in their system are more likely to be involved in a car accident. One study shows that individuals with a blood alcohol level between 0.02 and 0.049 percent were up to four times more likely to be involved in a fatal single-car accident.
The Chicago Police Department has a blood alcohol limit of 0.02 percent for its officers. That police department recently paid $4.1 million to the family of a man who was shot by an officer who had been drinking.
Several of the agencies interviewed by NBC said that they have a zero tolerance policy for intoxicated officers. The agencies said that they would send an intoxicated officer home, even if they couldnt formally discipline them.
Paying someone a salary for being sent home for consuming alcohol certainly does not sit well with me or the public who ultimately bear the costs, said Sam Pulia, the mayor of west suburban Westchester. Alcohol/drugs and cops dont mix.