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Sergeant can't avoid long arm of lawn enforcement

A St. Petersburg police sergeant cited in 2001 for violating the city's lawn watering laws was arrested Monday for failing to appear at a court hearing on the matter.

An arrest warrant was issued in October 2001 for Sgt. Bernard Rawls, but it was unclear Monday why almost 1{ years passed before Rawls was picked up on the charge.

According to court records, Rawls was issued a notice to appear in court on Sept. 28, 2001. A $58 fine also was imposed. An arrest warrant was issued for Rawls several days later because he did not show for the arraignment.

On Monday, Rawls, 34, was arrested by St. Petersburg police and booked into the Pinellas County Jail. He was released nearly an hour later.

St. Petersburg police spokesman Bill Doniel said internal affairs is investigating the circumstances surrounding Rawls' arrest. Rawls, who was hired in 1992, is currently on vacation.

In 2001, Rawls was suspended for five days without pay for unbecoming conduct after he crashed his motorcycle while off duty.

Paramedics smelled alcohol on Rawls' breath at the scene, but police did not conduct a DUI investigation. Internal affairs said Rawls left the scene and did not properly report the accident for investigation.