By DAN REYNOLDS, senior editor of Risk & Insurance®
Even the article in the Los Angeles Times didn't smell right.
The newspaper reported on May 23 that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors had approved a $4.75 million settlement in the case of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Robert Moran, who was involved in a car crash in June of 2008 while driving under the influence.
What tempered the settlement, according to the report, was the fact that Elias Aldana, the driver of the other car, was also stoned. His cocktail of choice that day was a mixture of methamphetamine and opiates.
Moran's attorney, Vicki Podberesky, was quoted by the L.A. Times as saying that Moran had a "couple of beers" before going to bed the previous night and was still impaired when he drove off in his employer-owned SUV the next morning.
Even more disturbing is that Moran's behavior is part of a broader pattern, according to a report from the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review.
Alcohol-related incidents within the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department were up sharply in the first half of 2010, according to the report. There were 33 alcohol-related incidents within the department from January to May in 2010, up 37.5 percent over the same period in 2009, according to a 2010 update from the office.
But it's not just the alcohol levels that are scary in these reports, the stories from which date back a couple years in some cases.
One off-duty deputy had a blood alcohol content of 0.19 when she drove her two children to meet their father. The deputy's 14-year-old son is reported to have flagged down police officers and told them his mother was drunk. Within months, this deputy had two DUI arrests and a third arrest for discharging a firearm while drunk.
Another off-duty sheriff's deputy went out to drink alone at a bar and was later found on the sidewalk in a pool of his own vomit, according to the report. When he was roused, he was found to have, along with this Los Angeles County Sheriff's badge, a set of brass knuckles and a loaded firearm.
A deputy involved in helping to evacuate residents during the Station Fire of 2009, north of Los Angeles, was so loaded he stumbled and fell down on the job. He was later found to have vodka in his Gatorade bottle.
The Los Angeles County Department of Risk Management coordinates with the Los Angeles County Counsel office and the Sheriff's Department on managing risk exposures of the Sheriff's Department.
Los Angeles County Risk Manager Laurie Milhiser could not be reached for comment.
Assistant County Counsel and Division Chief of the Law Enforcement Division Roger H. Granbo helps oversee the sheriff's office from a risk management perspective and would have data on which way the sheriff's department's overall claims have been trending, the risk management department said.
Granbo couldn't be reached for comment either.
But if the office of independent review study can be trusted, it looks like claims like Moran's are going to keep on coming.
May 31, 2011
Copyright 2011© LRP Publications