Banning officers from drinking alcohol while carrying a loaded gun

Published On: Feb 07 2014 06:39:17 PM HST
HONOLULU -

A drink of alcohol and a loaded gun. Lawmakers say it has the makings of a bad combination, even if the person with the gun is a trained professional carrying a badge.   
    
"This is in my opinion a public safety issue for the community because if an individual is impaired, even if it's slightly, then their judgement can be questioned," said Sen. Will Espero.

Espero introduced a bill to ban all state and county law enforcement officers from carrying a gun if they're drinking.

He says the Christopher Deedy murder case prompted it. Deedy is the federal agent who shot and killed local resident Kollin Elderts inside a Waikiki McDonalds. Deedy admitted he was drinking that night.

"Right now it's county by county and depending on what the agency puts within the rules," said Espero.

The Department of Public Safety submitted testimony that it is in support of the bill, but Deputy Police Chief Dave Kajihiro said the Police Chief of Hawaii Association strongly opposes the bill, testifying that, "As the primary first responders in emergency situations, the safety of the public would be adversely affected with the reduced ability to activate personnel resource."

He also said all counties already have policies prohibiting the possession of firearms while impaired.

"I think they believe their policies are adequate. However, I feel that we need a statewide policy and uniformity for all of the counties," said Espero.

The bill would also ban public safety employees from consuming any alcohol hours prior to carrying a firearm. How many hours? That is yet to be determined.

"Most of the police department rules have discretion by the police officer. I want to remove that discretion completely," said Espero.

Undercover officers are exempt from the ban. The bill passed Friday's Senate hearing it will go before the judiciary committee next.

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