Cops Drinking With Guns Worries Council

OCEAN CITY — The City Council took umbrage with one topic included in a housekeeping measure that would have updated the police department’s General Orders.

All but one of the nine General Orders proposed to the Mayor and Council passed through the council level, but one issue involving off-duty police officers, firearms and alcohol was table for more discussion.

Section 200-B2 of the police’s General Order addressed several instances and guidelines for off-duty police officers including when they should intervene with an incident in the field while off-duty and what amount of alcohol they would be allowed to consume while carrying a firearm.

Under state law, an officer would be allowed to have a Blood-Alcohol Content of .04 (approximated at two drinks) and still be allowed to carry a firearm, but anymore than that is a violation of the General Order.

“The state has set standards for alcohol that has said that anything below .05 is deemed to be acceptable and the presumption that the person is unaffected,” said Lieutenant Greg Guiton. “We tell them that if their intent is to go out and drink alcohol, we would advise them not to carry the firearm, but this would protect the officer if something were to happen while he or she were off duty and having a drink and absolutely had to get involved in a situation and were carrying a firearm.”

As scientific studies have shown that a person’s judgment and motor skills are the first two things that are affected by the consumption of alcohol, the rather small bullet point in a rather large General Order became the main talking point amongst the Mayor and Council.

“If I had two drinks, you wouldn’t want me to carry a gun,” said Councilwoman Mary Knight. “So, I’m concerned with this and the .04.”

Guiton said that the number of .04 was set based on the number of studies that say that a person starts to enter a state of euphoria as their judgment begins to be altered slightly.

Councilman Doug Cymek felt the entire section should be tabled for more discussion, pointing out the rather “objective verbiage” in the document and simply stating, “I just can’t live with .04”

The motion to table section 200-B2 was approved by a 6-1 vote (Councilman Joe Hall opposed), but in that vote, the council passed through slight changes and/or updates to topics in the other General Orders including performance evaluations, employee drug testing, secondary employment, use of force, domestic violence involving police officers and extra-jurisdictional authority.