Worth, a southwest suburb of Chicago, is adopting new provisions in their contracts for police officers. The same clauses have become common in all contracts across the state, but these clauses have also sparked debate. The clauses call for a decreased blood-alcohol limit in the bodies of on-duty police officers. Numerous towns donâ€™t address a limit at all in contracts, whereas in some towns a zero-tolerance level has been implemented.
The new provision in Worthâ€™s contract states that on-duty officers are considered under the influence if their blood-alcohol level is .03 or higher. Several village trustees, as well as police officers, are opposed to these measures. David Wickster, executive director of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, states, â€œHaving to drink, in some scenarios, is part of your job,â€ especially when they are undercover. Wickster also notes, â€œIf you had a few cocktails the night before your shift at your brother-in-lawâ€™s wedding, it could show up the next morning. Indeed. Operating under the same premonition would suggest that officers that indulged in such activities would in fact be impaired the following morning.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, studies show that impairment can be detected with as little as a .02 blood-alcohol limit. The effects such a limit displays are slight euphoria, mild relaxation, and possible light-headedness. At .04, individuals experience lower inhibitions and cautions, as well as impairment in reasoning. It can also intensify actions by heightening oneâ€™s emotions. None of these effects should appear in any on-duty officer of the law, not when they carry firearms and drive vehicles in which taxpayers are responsible.
Public works department employees have an almost zero tolerance stipulation, and they are subject to random testing under their Illinois Department of Transportation contracts. Why should officers of the law, who carry a much greater burden of responsibility, be treated any differently?
They shouldnâ€™t! Police officers, more so than any other government employee, should be subjected to practice what they preach. They should be examples, models for the public to aspire to, rather than exemptions to laws.