Trustee Terry Vorderer (District 4) took the time to defend a contractual clause allowing police officers to report to duty “buzzed” on alcohol.
Vorderer called out Trustee Robert Streit (District 3) for voting against the contract after citing his objection to a specific clause allowing officers to report or remain on duty so long as their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is less than 0.04. The legal limit for driving is 0.08, thus lending 0.04 the moniker “half-drunk”.
Vorderer points out that the contract “does allow very small portions of alcohol to be in an officer’s bloodstream at the beginning of his roll call.” He then went on to say that “if you understand the body and how it dispenses alcohol, if you have one cocktail you’ll still have a very minor reading 10 hours later.” Vorderer previously used the example of an officer having a cocktail with his wife at 1 a.m., then reporting for duty at 7 a.m.
It would appear that Vorderer doesn’t “understand the body and how it dispenses alcohol.” But perhaps he should be excused for that. As he often points out, he’s a retired cop, not a medical professional.
According to various medical sources, your body can get rid of one drink per hour. One drink is 1.5 oz. of 80 proof liquor, 12 oz. of beer, or 5 oz. of table wine. Vorderer’s example, assuming that the officer only has one drink at 1:00 a.m., he would show no impairment six hours later. Even one drink immediately before reporting for duty wouldn’t allow the officer to reach the 0.04 that is not allowed under the contract.
For a male weighing 200 lbs, two 12 oz. beers will attain a 0.043 BAC. It takes 3 hours to sober up after attaining a 0.045 BAC. In order to blow a 0.04 BAC on a breathalyzer, a 200 lb male would need to drink two beers right before the test.
Wine generally has a higher alcohol content than beer, about 5 oz. is the equivalent of a 12 oz. beer. In order for an officer to have a BAC of 0.04 six hours later, he would need to have consumed six glasses of wine.
Vorderer also made the claim that something as innocuous as mouthwash could skew the results. This is true. Mouthwash and breath sprays frequently contain alcohol and will leave residual alcohol in your mouth and on your breath for up to fifteen minutes after use. That concentrated alcohol dissipates quickly. However, a trained tester will know that it is universally accepted that an accurate result requires waiting 15 minutes to take the breath sample after the tested subject has put anything into his her mouth.
Another claim by Vorderer is that consuming cough syrup can cause a higher BAC. This is also true. Many cough syrups contain alcohol. The alcohol contained in cough syrup still causes impairment, though. A 0.04 reading on cough syrup is the same as a 0.04 reading on beer or wine. So whether the officer is buzzed on wine or cough syrup, he’s still buzzed.
Vorderer also asks why this has become an issue today, when it has been standard policy for decades. He also pointed out that the same clause was in the 2011 contract.
The Trustee from District 4 must be tone deaf. If he was paying any attention, he would note that police are under greater scrutiny than any other time in recent memory. Any cause for concern about how an officer’s judgement may be impaired is rife with the possibility of multi-million dollar lawsuit settlements. The Village and Police Department already have a few of those ongoing, likely to cause the Village insurance costs to increase.
Trustee Vorderer needs to realize that he doesn’t represent the police officers. They have a union for that. The Trustee represents the residents of Oak Lawn. Is it really in the interest of residents to allow police officers on the job with alcohol in their system?
As Vorderer himself noted, “I might point out, in my 35 years as a police officer, I’ve never seen that happen… At no time does a policeman drive a squad car or patrol these streets impaired. It just does not happen.”
So the question is: if it never happens, why is it such a big deal to Vorderer that the contract be so lenient?
A chart setting forth the effect of drinking and driving is shown below.
|Approximate Blood Alcohol Percentage|
|Drinks||Body Weight in Pounds (Men)
|0||.00||.00||.00||.00||.00||.00||.00||.00||Only Safe Driving Limit|
|2||.08||.06||.05||.05||.04||.04||.03||.03||Driving Skills Affected
– Possible Criminal Penalties
View Terry Vorderer’s comments in the video below: