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  • Oral board question

    Here in Maine there is a question that keeps coming up on many of the hiring interviews that I have done. The wording is a bit different each time, but the question is pretty much the same.

    During you patrol shift, you stop a vehicle for "questionable" driving. During the stops investigation you determine that the driver is under the influence. As you are making the arrest a fellow officer radios for emergency backup. You are the only officer avalible and are a short distance away. What do you do?

    To me that answer would be simple, drop what you are doing and respond to help the officer, but there is one factor that makes that a bit tricky. The person you are about to arrest is intoxicated and has just been caught commiting a serious crime. Their ability to care for themselves is in question and they many go back to breaking the law as soon as you leave. No one that has faced this question can come up with a flawless answer. Now I turn it loose on you, give me your input............
    Last edited by wpd1117; 11-07-2009, 08:50 PM.

  • #2
    I'm not a LEO or even a rookie so this is just my best guess. Obviously your fellow officer's needs/safety is priority one, so the only solution I can see would be to confiscate the keys to the intoxicated person's car (if you are lawfully allowed to do such a thing, no idea) and as you are en-route to your fellow officer notify dispatch of the location of the vehicle/person (I'm assuming they would already have this information though if you were on a stop) and inform them that you have their keys and to send another unit to the person and I guess either finish the stop or wait for your return.

    My best guess


    • #3
      There is no right answer to this question.

      Let's take a look at the scenario for a second.

      If you abandon the known drunk driver to help the officer and as a result, the drunk hurts himself or someone else, you have inexcusable neglected your duties. Your have also created the potential for civil liability on the part of yourself and the department that is going to be almost impossible to defend against.

      You can stuff the drunk in your car, lock up his vehicle, take him to the help call and book him later. Doing this will unnecessarily expose him to any dangers associated with the help call (civil liability) and delay administration of the chemical tests, which could jeopardize his prosecution.

      Finally, it you ignore the officer needs assistance call to handle the drunk, your are abandoning a fellow officer, needlessly exposing him to danger. We don't do that in this profession.

      As I said earlier. there is no right answer to this question. No matter which course of action you choose, you will put someone at risk. Personally, I would take the drunk to the help call, only because it addresses both needs. It gets the drunk off the streets and it provides assistance to the officer in need. Nonetheless, the oral panel will still jump on you for it.

      No matter what answer you give, the oral panel will challenge you to see if they can make you back down and change your mind. If you back down and change your mind, you will fail the question. If you hold your ground, you will pass. THAT is what the question is about - whether or not you can be bullied into changing your mind.
      Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere


      • #4
        I agree with L-1, that is a difficult choice, tkae the drunk with you, and you get into a crash, or worse shoot-out and the drunk gets hurt, or worse, you're in trouble, leave the drunk and he crashes, you're in touble, don't go to assist the other officer, and something bad happens, in a small dept, you're probably TOAST.

        I would either, hook the drunk and take him with me, or TAKE HIS CAR KEYS from him and tell him to wait right there, those are the only 2 ideas that i think are even close to being acceptable. IMHO.


        • #5
          If the drunk's car is out of the road a quick "call a cab and come see me about your car keys" and I'm gone before he has time to say "huh?"

          If he's got an extra set and drives off, stuff happens. They say the average drunk drives intoxicated about 80 times per time he's caught, meaning he didn't crash that many times. I'll take those odds over letting a fellow officer get hurt or killed. Not to downplay DUI, I snag quite a few of them and don't practice catch and release, but I'm not having a fellow officer's injury or death on my conscience.
          I miss you, Dave.


          • #6
            You could always do what an officer I worked with did. He was out with a DUI one night when an high priority emergency call came in. He took the driver's keys, threw them into the woods, and said, "You should be sober by the time you find those." This solves two problems in your scenario. 1) The intox driver cannot drive without his keys. 2) He wont pose a danger of falling in the roadway if he's in the woods searching for his keys Disclaimer: I'm not actually recommending this practice
            "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." -Edmund Burke


            • #7
              The hole in the scenario is the fact that it states "you are the only available Officer".
              The truth is your not available, you have a DUI your dealing with.
              The first answer is you have to contact your supervisor. If you make a decision like this without contacting your supervisor you will fail.
              Since I am the closest I would be enroute but advise dispatch to send the first available unit to the location of the DUI. I would take his keys, lock the car, and tell him to sit on the curb until another officer checks with him. If he's not there when the other officer arrives oh well, tow his car.

              Here in Ga, if an officer calls for emergency assistance dispatch won't have trouble finding an officer to respond. You'll have every agency and the next 3 counties responding. The problem will be to many officers responding.

              What was stated about sticking to your answer is true. There will be many scenarios where you have to triage calls. You always go to the one that posses the highest threat to someones safety. I have tossed a license back through the drivers window of many a traffic stop in order to respond to a higher priority call. When an officer calls for emergency assistance there is no higher call.
              Due to the Juvenile bickering and annoying trolling committed by members of this forum I have started an igore list. If your name is listed below I can't see you.

              CityCopDC, Fire Moose, Carbonfiberfoot, Damiansolomon


              • #8
                As complicated as it seems, the answer is quite simple (sorta, haha.) The right answer, is the answer that you can justify correctly and articulate why. They are looking for your decision making process, not the outcome you choose. Bother responses (helping a fellow officer, or staying with the stop) are correct, if you word it correctly and say why. Here is what I would say (already said once) in a nutshell.

                I would take the drivers keys and have dispatch send a cab to that location. Then I would go help my fellow officer. You may take **** from your super, or the public for taking the guys keys (you have not right to take his prob, etc etc etc) but at least he didnt drive away and kill someone. articulate it correctly and you will be okay.

                You could also say: I would stay with the DUI, because....and justify it. We had a call here this weekend of a strong armed robbery that just occurred. A unit assisting with the perimeter had a grey vehicle matching the suspect veh description pass him at a high rate of speed. Long story short, turned out to be a DUI and unrelated. That unit stayed with the DUI.

                Believe it or not, you will catch the most slack for just saying, "I would leave the DUI (warning, etc) and help my fellow officer."

                Obviously, these are just my opinions, and i apologize if you just read all this and left with nothing more than a confused look on your face. I am pretty sick and cant exactly think good :-)


                • #9
                  Originally posted by leesrt View Post

                  Here in Ga, if an officer calls for emergency assistance dispatch won't have trouble finding an officer to respond. You'll have every agency and the next 3 counties responding. The problem will be to many officers responding.
                  I really love that little fact; makes me feel good to know your brothers in blue are coming for you regardless of the situation.

                  Off the topic (sorry to OP) but I was on duty a couple years back walking through a building during Saint Patty's Day and came up on an officer who had just had a heart attack. I called it in Officer down and like two minutes later 50 other officers swarmed the scene. They started clearing the path for the ambulance tearing down fences, throwing **** every where. A bad situation but made me feel good to see the lengths your fellow officers will go through to make sure you get home at night.

                  In regards to the orginal question there is no right answer, everyone has there own way they would handle it. They are trying to see how you would handle it. That's what makes a good officer, the ability to think on your feet.
                  Annoy a liberal use facts and logic

                  Liberalism, when hating America just isn't enough

                  Liberals, destroying freedom one Bill at a time

                  Obama the Change we can't afford


                  • #10
                    Again guys, the key is there is no right answer, so don't get hung up on this issue.

                    Every solution poses a risk to the health and safety of someone and creates the potential for civil liability on the part of the department and the officer, so it doesn't matter which answer you go with.

                    The whole purpose of the question is not to see what solution you choose, but to see if the oral board can bully you into changing your mind once you make your decision.

                    Don't worry about the answer. Worry about whether they can pressure you into changing your answer.

                    Above all, don't be afraid to turn the tables on the oral board. When they press you about everything that can go wrong with your decision, point out that there are several choices, all of which have many pitfalls which are indefensible. Tell them very briefly what they are, that you believe there is no "good solution" and that you have chosen the course of action your think poses the least risk to everyone. When they point out problems with your decision, point out equally bad problems with the their options.

                    The whole point it to hold your ground, make it clear that you have thought things through and that you will not succumb to being pressured by outsiders.
                    Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere


                    • #11
                      Thanx for all the feedback. L-1 is right, there is not prefect answer. I hate this question everyime I get asked it. This is a "what if" question I put out there to some of the guys I work with in correcions looking to move on to patrol. This scenario makes for quite a mind twister. At one interview I actually got into a heated debate with the Cheif Deputy of the county SO. It got so heated that a few other pannel members got a bit uncomfortable. I later found out that the Cheif Deputy was impressed that I did not back down and fought for my answer, unfortunatly someone with more experience got the job. LOL


                      • #12
                        A brother officers request for help clearly takes priority over a DWI IMO. Police work often involves prioritizing, and there is no perfect answer, but the best answer is to deal with the priority.


                        • #13
                          I am trying to think of my answer. Where I work, like someone else posted, every off duty officer, and surrounding counties would respond. I believe I would say, I would take the keys, make sure the vehicle is off the travel portion of the road. Tell drunk to sit buckled into vehicle with flashers on. Have a deputy from surrounding agency come and sit on the car, or take the drunk as his own. Or same as above with drunk, get a tow truck coming. Have driver tow vehicle, and drop drunk off at home. Still a liability issue with that.


                          • #14
                            Take his keys, tell him to wait off to the side of the roadway for another unit. Advise him that if he's not there when the next unit gets there, a warrant will be taken out. May not have the strongest DUI case, but he's not driving and you're en route to help your buddy.


                            • #15
                              I dont put a co-workers safety in jeoperdy... if its for emergency backup and Im not only close- but Im that backup needed. Im going and Im getting there as prudent but quick as possible. If I let the guy go and he goes back to commiting a crime, then he does that- if I dont go, I got one less coworker tomarow- and If I was on the other side crying for emergency help I want someone there now I dont give a damn if they were in the middle of taking a crap or anything. My coworkers safety is paramount and will not be put in risk. If you argue the dui could go on his way and get in a wreck and hurt or killed or hurt or kill someone else.. thats a possibility yes- but your call was not for backup, it was for emergency backup- that means his situation in his judgement is already at that high level risk.

                              There is no 2nd though for me on this- Ill be next to my coworker ASAP if they need me and Im the diffrence..... if someone else is out, especially if that someone else is closer its a diffrent story, but this really is not that difficult of a situation. If Im the other one on the other end of that radio and you dont give me the backup I need as soon as you humanly can- Ill be kicking your *** from here to Japan if I live through the night. If hes in bad shape and I can hear the panic in his voice or shots in the background- the damn joker I just cuffed may need to get his own keys for the cuffs because Im not sure if Id be taking the time to take them back off or toss him in my car. Taking the car keys is a good and viable option.

                              Just My Opinion the answer to the question when its asked coudl be much diffrent and can even change from agency to agency- sometimes open eneded questions dont have set answers.
                              Last edited by Malaru; 12-10-2009, 11:25 PM.
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