Police department officials say they are not exactly changing policy, but they are increasing existing programs to combat alcohol abuse. One-on-one counseling is going to be increased to help officers who have a problem off duty and random alcohol testing is being considered for on duty officers.
As friends and family attend the funeral of Andrew Cazares, Chicago Police Department officials consider what to do about alcohol abuse within the department. Cazares and a friend were killed last week after police say off-duty detective Joseph Frugoli slammed into their car. Frugoli was allegedly drunk.
Beverly Jackson is the Chicago Police Department's director of substance abuse counseling. She believes alcohol abuse is a problem within the department.
"I think there is. I think it's the same problem most major police departments have to deal with," said Jackson.
Jackson is not surprised the number of officers arrested for DUI almost doubled from eight in -2007 to 15 in 2008.
"Of course the job is stressful. But these officers have the same problems, same stresses… in addition to the job," said Jackson.
The Frugoli case is not unique. There have been a number of alcohol related incidents involving off duty police officers. Jackson says starting next week the department is going to send counselors to roll calls. It's an existing program that Jackson says will be increased.
"What they are going to do individual units and they talk to them about alcohol, making responsible decisions when you drink," said Jackson. Also being considered is random alcohol testing for on- duty officers.
"It's an issue the city has proposed and is on the table," said Mark Donahue, Fraternal Order Of Police.
"We know that the fire department does have it. So in terms of police, I think it's something they are looking at," said Ald. Isaac Carothers, Police & Fire Committee chairman.
A new procedure put in place by Supt. Jody Weis last year involves sending watch commanders to accident scenes. If an on or off duty officer is involved in an accident and is suspected of being intoxicated, a watch commander is supposed to go to the scene.
Meantime, counselors going to call rolls will begin next week.