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Chicago Officers May Agree To Stricter Drug, Alcohol Rules

Chicago cops are arrested for DUIs at a far lower rate than the general population, as might be expected. A Chicago Sun-Times article reports that while one in 125 Chicago drivers were arrested for a DUI in 2008, just one in 1,000 officers were arrested for drunk driving during the same period.

But high-profile bad behavior by drunk cops, most notably 250-pound Anthony Abbate's videotaped 2006 beating (Huffington Post) of a 125-pound female bartender, has pushed the issue to the forefront. Also, two off-duty Chicago-area officers were involved in fatal drunk-driving accidents last year.  

New five-year contracts introduces earlier this week would ban police lieutenants and captains from drinking four hours before duty, subject them to random alcohol testing and enforce automatic drug and alcohol testing whenever an officer discharges his or her weapon.

The drug and alcohol rules were discussed by Mayor Daley at a recent City Council meeting. Steroids and other so-called "newer illegal drugs" also would be screened.

There doesn't seem to be much push-back from officers, at least publicly. Virginia Drozd, president of the captains association, speaking with reporters, said she cautiously welcomes the terms:

"If you were an engineer on a train or a pilot on a plane that crashed, you'd have to submit to drug and alcohol testing. I'm not saying I like it. But, it wasn't so unreasonable that we thought it was a dealbreaker."

Again, the statistics suggest that drunk driving and other alcohol-induced bad behavior isn't a systemic problem among Chicago Police officers. The new rules aim to keep it that way.