Justice – too little, too late?

Justice was certainly not done when a Bellevue police officer failed to: (1) cite a colleague for drunken driving, (2) conduct field sobriety tests or (3) make an effort to obtain the officer’s blood-alcohol level before letting him leave the scene with his wife. Justice, however, was done this past Wednesday when that same officer, Doug Brennan, was fired for his lack of action against his fellow officer. Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo found that Brennan had violated department ethics, arrest and false-information policies when handling the November 20, 2013 incident.

On November 20, 2013 while Officer Brennan was off duty he was passed on Interstate 90 by a Jeep Cherokee traveling 73 mph, well above the posted 60 mph limit. Brennan noted that the Jeep was “swerving all over the roadway.” Although off duty, the driving was such that Officer Brennan felt it necessary to pull the car over. Upon contact, he recognized Officer Andrew Hanke as the driver of the car. He also allegedly smelled alcohol through the window of Officer Hanke’s vehicle.

Officer Brennan thereafter took it upon himself to not process Officer Hanke for DUI but to rather call Hanke’s wife to have her come and get him. More astonishingly, Officer Brennan permitted Hanke’s wife to drive Officer Hanke home in his car while he waited for her to get a ride back to the scene so she could pick up her vehicle. Now if that is not ‘black tie service’, what is? It certainly is not a service provided to any ol’ regular motorist stopped for DUI. Most, if not all, other motorists similarly situated would have been carted off to jail and charged for DUI. They would have been facing months of court hearings and the very real prospect of having a lifelong conviction for DUI, a gross misdemeanor.

The sad fact is that if this type of incident was caught once, we can only be left to believe that it has happened on several occasions without detection in the past. How many good citizens have been arrested, charged, prosecuted and even convicted for DUI where a similarly situated law enforcement agent simply ‘got off with a warning’? Perhaps we will never truly know that answer – and that is just plain frightening.

Since the incident, not only has Officer Brennan been fired, but Officer Hanke has resigned from the Bellevue Police Department, and the Bellevue Police Department has been left with trying to repair its image for having high standards of integrity and professionalism.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI attorney is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI attorney to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer.

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