Saturday, April 21, 2018
Public safety

Clearwater officers reprimanded for failing to report colleague suspected of DUI

CLEARWATER — Two police sergeants accused this winter of driving home a colleague suspected of driving drunk and failing to report the incident to superiors will receive written reprimands instead of suspensions.

The Clearwater Police Department's command staff had recommended one-day suspensions for Sgts. David Young and Sean Allaster, pending a review by the city's human resources department.

Human resources director Joe Roseto, City Manager Bill Horne and police Chief Tony Holloway decided Friday that letters of reprimand were more appropriate, given the officers' lengthy histories of 24 years on the force without prior disciplinary action, said city spokeswoman Joelle Castelli.

The penalty includes a two-year ban on promotions, transfers or special assignments for the pair, she said.

The disciplinary action stems from a Jan. 23 incident in which police received multiple calls about a drunken driver stumbling out of the Brown Boxer Pub & Grille on Clearwater Beach, then later swerving on Clearwater Memorial Causeway and nearly hitting a taxi.

Internal affairs records say Young and Allaster pulled over the motorist, off-duty Clearwater Officer Nicholas Capogna. They did not conduct a field sobriety test, which are currently left to the discretion of officers who sometimes opt to call cabs for impaired drivers.

As a result of the "mistakes" in this case, Holloway said last week, he is drafting a policy requiring officers to conduct sobriety tests on all suspected drunk motorists and report any city employees they stop for impaired driving.

Castelli said city leaders upheld the five-day suspension recommended for Capogna, who was hired in 2008 and had previously been investigated for damaging his patrol car. Capogna's punishment also will require random drug and alcohol testing for an unspecified period, counseling and revoked use of his take-home patrol car for a year.

Keyonna Summers can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4153. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

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