Police Chief Put on Leave, Charged with DUI in Crash


The Chief of Police of Alexandria, Va., David Baker, has been placed on administrative leave following a car crash on Saturday night in Arlington County, according to Allison Klein of the Washington Post. The police chief was arrested on charges of DUI.

At the time of the crash, Baker was behind the wheel of an unmarked vehicle owned by the city of Alexandria. His blood alcohol was reportedly .19%, twice the legal limit under state DUI laws.

City Manager James Hartmann has ordered an internal investigation into the crash and the circumstances surrounding it, which will be conducted by the city’s human resources department and city attorney’s office.

Deputy Chief Earl Cook, an officer for 30 years, has been named acting chief.

Hartmann has the authority to fire Baker immediately, given the circumstances, but has decided to await the internal review’s findings, which are due within the week.

In fact, Chief Baker, 58, is not the first high-ranking official in Alexandria to be arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated. Rebecca Perry, then-superintendent of schools, was arrested on similar charges in 2004. Perry was allowed to remain superintendent.

It may be difficult to reach the same conclusion in the case of Baker. On Saturday, July 25, at 11:00pm, Baker tried to merge onto I-66 and struck another car. The driver of that vehicle was taken to the hospital with “whiplash, neck or back pain.” She was released, and officials estimated that each car sustained $900 in damage. Baker was alone in his vehicle and was listed as the at-fault driver in the accident.

Baker has been a police officer in Alexandria for 19 years, with an additional 21 years of experience in the Washington D.C. police department, where he served as the officer in charge of the traffic enforcement division.

William Euille, Mayor of Alexandria, says that Baker had an exemplary record prior to Saturday’s accident.

"He’s highly respected." Euille also says that the chief should be lead by example and be respected by the officers that serve under him.

City officials say the chief was driving the vehicle involved in the accident while his personal vehicle was being repaired. Baker was cooperative during his arrest and processed as any other individual in similar circumstances would be. The chief was released on bail and is scheduled for arraignment this week.

If he is found guilty of the charges, Baker would face a minimum of five days in his own jail according to Commonwealth law, which proscribes that minimum for anyone found guilty of driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.15%.

The acting chief reports that Baker is "personally devastated" by the arrest.

The city manager says he will explain his decision following the internal investigation.

"I’ll have to justify it to my community and to everyone else," Hartmann said.

Source: Washington Post

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