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Published: Thursday, 10/11/2001

A cop with a problem

Voters in Pioneer, Ohio, have to be dismayed, along with the entire police department, that a former assistant police chief, suspended for drunkenness on duty, is now allowed to work with a blood-alcohol level of up to 0.05 percent.

What was city council thinking?

Darrell McKinney lost his supervisory post in April for five months. He returned as a patrol officer. He agreed to a cut in pay, to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and to submit to random blood-alcohol tests, during or just before his shift.

The kicker was that council members also agreed to let Mr. McKinney come to work with a blood-alcohol level up to half the 0.10 percent considered legally drunk for driving in Ohio.

Council members, in effect, have said it's OK for police on patrol to come to work half drunk. While that may be better than totally drunk, it mocks the esteem in which police must be held to effectively patrol a community.

The 53-year-old officer was suspended in April after having been caught in March at work and driving a patrol car while under the influence, and at a time when he was “acting” chief while Chief Judy Lineberger was away.

Understandably Mr. McKinney won't comment on the clout he has with council to command its extreme generosity.

But council members should be hounded by voters to explain the senseless provision they agreed to. They make themselves an unthinking laughingstock, they diminish respect for the police in their town, and they potentially put the community at risk.

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