It was announced recently that the Police Chief in Fruitland was placed on administrative leave with pay. He voluntarily accepted this status while he awaits the disposition of drinking and driving charges in another Maryland county. Reportedly, this is the same status that any other police officer would face in a similar situation.
Of course, the police officer will have every opportunity to defend himself against the accusations, and his request for administrative leave is not an admission of guilt. The 47-year-old was off-duty and driving his own vehicle when a deputy initiated a traffic stop. He was not wearing a police uniform and also did not possess a firearm. He was ultimately charged with driving while impaired, driving under the influence and following too closely.
Reportedly, the man has no prior record of any criminal activity. He was with the Maryland State Police for several years before becoming the Police Chief in Fruitland. Like anyone else in his predicament, the chief is presumed innocent of all allegations until and unless proved otherwise by Somerset County prosecutors, in accordance with the court's exacting standard of proof.
Understandably, the outcome of the drinking and driving charges could affect this man's position with the city of Fruitland. More is at stake for him -- and anyone else facing these kind of charges -- than jail time, fines and other penalties. His career could be in jeopardy as well. A careful review of the proposed evidence and police procedures from the initial traffic stop may help identify potential areas of legal challenge as this case heads to court.
Source: delmarvanow.com, "Fruitland chief charged with DUI, DWI", Vanessa Junkin, June 30, 2014