Harsher Penalties for Texas Police Officers & Charges

Police checkpoint

On Monday December 26th, a Fort Worth Police Officer was arrested for driving while intoxicated and for providing a firearm to a felon.  The incidents preceding this arrest occurred at 4:40 in the morning when Officer Daniel Gonzalez and ex-con, Bobby Joe Newton drove around.  They took turns shooting at street lamps and traffic signs.

Gonzales joined the Police department in January 2002 and was assigned to the Central Patrol Division.  He has since been placed on restricted duty and had his gun and badge confiscated pending the criminal and administrative resolutions around his case.

Police Chief Halstead released this statement regarding this case.  “We have made great strides in addressing this national trend of alcohol use and abuse by law enforcement officers and…We will continue our efforts to address this tough issue through training, education, and employee assistance programs.  I will also continue to take decisive disciplinary actions when the public’s trust and safety are jeopardized. This behavior will not be tolerated, period.”

The state Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education’s revised policy necessitates that officers lose their peace officer licenses for some time. Department are not required to fire those officers, yet they will have to find those officers work during a license suspension. “Unfortunately, we don’t have positions we can put them in,” Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo told the paper. “There’s a good chance they will get fired and have to apply for reinstatement.”

Before, officers could seek an administrative hearing to ask for probation instead of a license suspension. A small number did. Since 2006, about 70 officers have received hearings.  About 30 were given full probation and were never legally forbidden from working as a peace officer.

The changes enacted in December require officers convicted of a misdemeanor to lose their licenses for some time. Officers convicted of felonies already lose their licenses. Most alcohol-related offenses are Class B misdemeanors, which will now carry a required 30-day suspension. Officers must lose their licenses for 120 days for a Class A misdemeanor conviction.

The police are responsible for keeping the public safe.  Unfortunately they also make bad decisions at times.  If you have made a bad decision about drinking and driving, then please contact a Texas DWI attorney.

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