FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) -- Four police officers were suspended last month for a variety of allegations.
Police Chief Rusty York says the disciplinary action handed out to each of the officers in January involved between one and three days of unpaid suspension, but one officer in particular has raised some questions.
Susan K. Ulrich, a 27-year veteran of the Fort Wayne Police Department, was involved in an on-duty crash in August, 2012. Her on-board computer showed that she was operating on an expired license and was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.
“We should’ve caught that in our regular inspections. For the citizenry out there, I mean it happens regularly when your birthday comes and goes and you realize your license is expired. Our supervision should’ve caught that and she should’ve caught that,” said Chief York.
Ulrich has received a one-day unpaid suspension for this offense. She has been suspended two times previously for on-duty vehicle crashes and has been suspended for submitting false reports. Ulrich has also received ten letters of reprimand for being late to duty, absent without leave, disobedience of orders and four other crashes. With the amount of offenses on her record, many are wondering why she’s still allowed on the force.
“The offenses that you notice on this officer's record occurred when she was with the Investigative Division. And since then has come back to Operations where she works in uniform and I think this is the first time there's been an issue at all,” said Chief York.
Chief York says Ulrich was severely injured in the crash from August and has just returned to work within the past two weeks. York says unfortunately more often than not, officers do not wear seat belts.
“When you look at officers killed in the United States approximately half are killed in automobile accidents, and of those killed in automobile accidents, it's believed that almost 30 percent were not wearing seat belts,” he said.
Chief York agrees there’s conflict in the fact that officers issue tickets for not wearing seat belts, especially when they’re not wearing them themselves.
“That’s an issue for law enforcement throughout this country. That’s why we have consequences when we determine officers aren’t wearing a seat belt. It’s a safety issue. Not only do we want to protect our officers, but if someone is injured in an automobile accident and lucky enough to survive there’s significant expenses involved with that,” he said.
Chief York says he tells to supervisors to emphasize the importance of wearing seat belts to their officers. He says if officers don't, supervisors can take action.
As far as Ulrich, Chief York says the Accident Review Board is investigating the incident to determine whether it was preventable or not. He says more actions can be taken, depending on the board's decision. Otherwise, he doesn't consider Ulrich’s actions to be job threatening.
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