Tampa police officer suspended after DUI arrest

Anton Neil Lipski faces termination because of the Police Department’s zero-tolerance policy.
Anton Neil Lipski faces termination because of the Police Department’s zero-tolerance policy.
Published Oct. 23, 2014

TAMPA — A Tampa police officer was suspended without pay Thursday, and now faces termination, hours after he was jailed on a drunken driving charge.

Anton Neil Lipski, 32, was arrested at 3:20 a.m. Thursday on a misdemeanor DUI charge, jail records show. He registered blood-alcohol levels of more than twice the limit at which a driver is presumed impaired — 0.180 and 0.164 in two tests — the records show.

Lipski, a patrol officer assigned to a late shift, was off-duty and driving his own car when he was arrested near Highland Avenue and W Violet Street in Seminole Heights.

Traveling north on Highland Avenue, Lipski struck the median on Violet Street with his 2004 silver Acura and then careened into a 3-foot concrete wall on a nearby property, authorities said. He got out of the car on his own and was not injured.

Responding officers learned Lipski was a police officer after they arrived. He showed "obvious signs of impairment," said Deputy Chief Brian Dugan, and officers called a DUI unit to the scene to conduct a field-sobriety test.

"It's embarrassing to me, it's a disappointment," Dugan said at a news conference. "As police officers, our job is to keep the roadways safe and not become part of the problem out there."

Lipski was released Thursday morning from the Hillsborough County Jail on $500 bail.

Police Chief Jane Castor, when she took over in 2009, implemented a "zero-tolerance" policy in the department for driving under the influence, said police spokeswoman Laura McElroy. If the evidence indicates an officer was driving while impaired, the policy states the officer will be terminated — even if the officer strikes a deal with prosecutors to avoid a DUI conviction. Since Castor became chief, McElroy said, no officer had been arrested on a DUI charge until Thursday.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Lipski joined the Tampa force on March 5, 2013. He was with the Gainesville Police Department for four years before that, officials said.

Lipski earned good marks on his annual performance report in February, having met expectations. He was also listed as a "safe driver" on the report.

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 226-3446 or Follow @josh_solomon15