2012-08-23 / Front Page

Jamestown officer allows drunk driver to leave scene

Operator of vehicle blew two times the legal limit
BY TIM RIEL

Jamestown Patrolman Ted Hebert was recently suspended without pay for pulling over a young woman on Route 138 for suspicion of DUI, and then allowing her to drive to Coventry.

According to a release from Police Chief Ed Mello, an investigation following the July 13 incident determined that Herbert had reason to arrest the operator for driving under the influence. Instead, the officer allowed her to drive her vehicle from the scene. “By not taking any further action, the officer placed the operator, her passenger, and others at risk,” Mello said.

Since then, the Jamestown Press has learned that the 24-year-old driver blew at least two times the legal limit after Hebert had cleared her to drive following a field sobriety test. The legal limit in Rhode Island is .08.

Hebert has since returned to work from suspension.

Mello could not comment on whether a Breathalyzer was administered, but did say that each time there is a chemical test it isn’t necessarily recorded. Therefore, an officer can perform such a test without any record of the test ever actually being administered.

Shortly after midnight on July 13, Hebert pulled over the swerving vehicle traveling westbound on Route 138 shy of the Jamestown Bridge. The operator and a 23-year-old male passenger were coming from a bar in Newport. Hebert ordered the operator to take a field sobriety test, and Sgt. Jason Hopkins was also on the scene to witness the one-leg stand. Both offi cers said the woman passed the test.

Following the field sobriety test, the operator was given a chemical test and failed. Hebert then gave the woman his cellphone number and told her to contact him when she got to her destination safely. According to a police report, Hebert received a text message from the operator at 1:41 a.m. saying had she arrived in Coventry. Hebert then told her that he had forgotten to return her driver’s license and registration following the traffi c stop. The operator agreed to pick up them up at the police station later that day.

Hebert’s supervisor that night became suspicious of the incident when it was learned that Hebert had already been in contact with the woman concerning her missing documents. An internal investigation by the Police Department concluded that Hebert had indeed given the woman his mobile number.

Following the investigation that began three days after the incident, Mello made the decision to suspend Hebert. The chief would not comment on the length of the suspension or the exact nature of it – the Rhode Island Police Officers Bill of Rights prohibits the release of such information.

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