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Chicago Cops Have a 'License to Swill'

Alexander Reed Kelly
Associate Editor
In December 2010, Alex was arrested for civil disobedience outside the White House alongside Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, Pentagon whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, healthcare activist Margaret Flowers and…
Alexander Reed Kelly

Police patrolling Chicago’s suburbs are permitted by their departments to work “with substantial amounts of alcohol in their systems,” reports the city’s NBC television bureau and the Better Government Association.

“I worry about it every day,” said Sam Pulia, mayor of the suburb of Westchester. Pulia is a former cop who failed to prevent his department’s union from allowing officers to carry a blood alcohol level under .05.

“I could argue that you are half drunk,” Pulia said. “I still believe that police officers are held to a higher standard.”

Read the full report by the Better Government Association here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

NBC Chicago:

Pulia argues that no one with alcohol in their systems should be driving a squad car or carrying a gun. And he thinks it sends the wrong message to officers to set a number which could be perceived as an allowable limit.

Westchester is not alone. Police in Forest Park, Glendale Heights, and South Barrington also have a limit of .05. In Elmwood Park and Oak Park, the limit is the state definition of legally drunk: .08 or higher.

“I think it places the city at great risk,” said Walter Zalisko, a retired police chief who now runs Police Management Consultants International in Fort Myers, Fla. “Zero would be the wise choice, that you can’t have any alcohol.”

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