Mayor Realizes People Don't Like Being Arrested For DUI
By: Mike Stetzer
To some, Joseph Fehling, the mayor of Salisbury, Missouri, may have just achieved hero status. You see, Fehling reportedly realized that people just really don't like being pulled over by the police, and they like being arrested for DUI even less.
According to Bill Wright, a former police officer in Salisbury, Missouri, Fehling told him to stop pulling people over and writing traffic tickets for minor traffic violations. Oh, and Fehling also allegedly said that Wright should not arrest all drunk drivers.
After meeting with the mayor and allegedly being told that he was writing too many traffic tickets and that citizens had complained about him, Bill Wright wrote a letter to the Salisbury City Council. He informed them that the mayor had said that there was nothing wrong with his conduct or procedures during the traffic stops, but that citizens just did not appreciate being stopped by the police for minor infractions.
More troubling was that Wright claims that Fehling informed him that as long as drunk drivers were on secondary roads he should leave them alone and not make DUI arrests because there was not much danger.
Right about now, you may be thinking, "What?"
That's how Wright felt after meeting with the mayor. He really could not believe that the mayor was telling him that drunk driving on secondary roads in the city was okay because it was less dangerous than drunk driving in other areas with higher speed limits.
When Wright did not get any response from the city council on his letter detailing the conflict he had with the mayor and his concerns for public safety, he wrote a second letter. He still received no direct response to his concerns.
Other officers in Salisbury say that they are angry about the alleged requests made by the mayor and find it unbelievable that allowing people to drive drunk and endanger lives on any road is acceptable to Fehling. Some say that they will continue arresting all drunk drivers that they find and upholding the laws in the city, regardless of public appeal.
When questioned about his statements at a city council meeting, the mayor said that there has been no change in police policy in the city. After the meeting, Bill Wright lost his job on the Salisbury police force. The city council announced that because of budget cuts, the officer with the least seniority would be laid off, and that officer just happened to be Wright. It seems to be quite a coincidence, since he was the whistle-blower on the mayor's seemingly bizarre statements about DUI and minor traffic violations.
Wright says that he knows that the city had budgeted the payroll for all officers until July 2008 and that the city was even planning to purchase a new patrol car. He has a hard time believing that he was let go due to a budget issue, and believes it was because he let the cat out of the bag about his conversation with the mayor when he was advised to make less traffic stops and DUI arrests.
After being let go, Wright wrote a third letter to the city council asking for a hearing and has still received no response. He now plans to sue the city of Salisbury in federal court over his dismissal.
The city and the mayor stand by their decision to cut Wright from the police force and say that he was let go because of budget concerns and not his conflict with the mayor over the alleged off-the-record police policy changes.