A Palo Alto officer has been reprimanded and directed to seek counseling for allegedly failing to fully cooperate with the San Francisco Police Department after consuming alcohol and possibly contemplating suicide in a hotel room while off duty, according to a new report from Independent Police Auditor Michael Gennaco.
The officer, who is not named in the report, was also allegedly involved in a separate incident six months earlier at a retirement party in which he reportedly became "very intoxicated," requiring other off-duty officers to help him get home safely, the report stated.
The San Francisco incident detailed in the report was prompted by a police call from the officer's girlfriend, who told the police that her boyfriend had just left the hotel room in which they were staying and possibly planning to commit suicide. When she reached him on his cell phone, he refused to tell her his location. He also refused to tell the police where he is. Nevertheless, officers quickly located him walking on a nearby sidewalk. He told them he had no intention of committing suicide, Gennaco wrote.
The Palo Alto officer was detained for psychiatric evaluation and hospital examination and released to his Palo Alto supervisors. He was placed on administrative leave and had his gun retained. The internal-affairs investigation concluded that he violated the department's policy against "conduct on or off duty unbecoming of a member of the Department...and which tend to reflect unfavorably on the Department or its members." He received a written reprimand, was required to write a letter of apology to the San Francisco Police Department, and was referred to the Employee Assistance Program, which assists employees with substance abuse and psychological issues.
Gennaco agreed with the department's finding that the officer violated the department's conduct, but expressed concern about "whether the Department has made the appropriate decisions regarding the future status of the officer within the PAPD." The San Francisco incident, coupled with the retirement party incident six months earlier, "point to a possible pattern of alcohol abuse." Gennaco recommended that if the police department receives information pointing to an alcohol-dependency problem, it should set "clear rehabilitative goals" during a probationary period and a "follow up evaluation set for a specific time in the future."
Alternatively or in conjunction with these steps, Gennaco wrote, police managers "could devise a more regimented monitoring or mentoring program for this officer to reduce the likelihood that future off duty alcohol-related incidents do not occur."