Memo warns Seattle police officers not to drink and drive

SEATTLE -- Seattle Police Chief John Diaz is warning officers not to drink and drive after at least 11 department employees were investigated last year for DUI.

Seattle police officers Sean Moore and Maria Gochnour were arrested last December when they crashed their car into a pole and then fled the scene. Prosecutors say Gochnour's blood-alcohol level was three times over the legal limit.

Just a few months earlier, officer John Fox was accused of driving drunk in his unmarked police car, causing a chain-reaction crash.

"We just want to remind everybody how important it is to be very careful," Diaz said.

A memo sent to the entire police department reminded officers that the community's tolerance level for SPD employees driving drunk is "very low."

"You know, we are the people that are out there dealing with people drinking and driving," Diaz said. "That also includes other individuals in public safety. They're doing the same thing and they should expect the same kind of sanctions would occur."

Diaz said SPD employees go through the same criminal process as anyone else. They also face lost pay, demotion and reassignment. On the second DUI offense, the employee is fired, Diaz said.

"I think it shows the stress that the men and women of public safety. Each and every day we see it not just in law enforcement, we see it all in all walks of life. It's a very stressful time in his country. That being said, it's not an excuse," Diaz said.

The memo was part of a drinking and driving awareness program called "Safe Call," which also included a DVD shown to all officers.