Metropolitan PD gets its hands slapped

It’s fun to watch DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey wiggle and squirm to defend the appalling zero tolerance policy that is currently blowing up in his face and threatening the District’s beverage tax revenue.

But the Washington Post story about Ramsey’s contortions buries an even more important concern on the second (web) page of the article: Lamon Lyles was arrested despite a 0.0 BAC simply because he admitted to having had a beer earlier that day. Even though the case was dismissed the next day, the arrest on his record prevented him from getting a necessary security clearance for his job at the NSA.

So not only is fighting off spurious DUI charges inconvenient and expensive, frivolous arrests like these actually threaten the livelihoods of anyone who has a job that requires a security clearance. And in case you haven’t noticed, here in the seat of our federal government, that’s rather a lot of people.

I certainly agree with the Chief that impairment is often a discretionary call. The problem, of course, is that the DC Police Department doesn’t do much to inspire my confidence in the good judgment of the individual officers- I know that there are many fine officers who are indeed only concerned with safety and keeping legitimately intoxicated people off the roads. But I also know that there are a lot of officers who will use one glass of wine or one beer as an excuse to arrest an innocent citizen whose attitude they just didn’t particularly like.

After being bombarded by threats of boycotts of DC restaurants and bars (and the accompanying loss of tax revenue), the DC Council is doing the sensible thing and introducing emergency legislation designed to eliminate the zero tolerance policy while still allowing officers to arrest drivers who are actually intoxicated.

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