Off Duty Columbus Cop Traffic Stop Sparks Questions
STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – More information about a Columbus officer pulled over by Starkville Police on suspicion of DUI is released today.
Sgt. Louis Alexander was stopped in the early morning hours of March 9.
Today, Starkville Police Chief Frank Nichols talked about that stop, what happened afterwards, and a change in policy.
Columbus councilmen have suspended an employee for “conduct unbecoming of an officer.”
We’re told that the employee, or rather officer, in question is CPD’s Sgt. Alexander.
Starkville Police say it was the presence of alcohol and swerving that caused them to stop Alexander.
Dash-cam video shows blue lights flashing behind a pick-up truck just after midnight on March 9 on Highway 12.
“He was swerving in and out the lane,” says Starkville Police Chief Frank Nichols.
The driver, Columbus Police Officer Sgt. Louis Alexander, was given a portable breathalyzer test during the traffic stop.
“You cannot testify in court to the findings of a portable. The only thing you can do is testify to being present of alcohol or not, so pass or fail, pass being no present of alcohol, fail being the present of alcohol. And he tested present of alcohol? He did,” says Nichols.
Starkville Police Chief Nichols says a representative of the Columbus Police Department was called about the traffic stop.
Later-on, the ‘chain of command decision’ was not to charge Alexander.
“How did he get back to Columbus? He was transported to Columbus to the best of my knowledge by someone from the police department there.” So, a city vehicle from Columbus? I’m not sure how he got back.” (Back-and-forth between Nichols and reporters)
Nichols says a professional courtesy is given to law enforcement in these types of situations.
“I think we’ve got to get more responsible with that with today’s time. If an officer is going to put himself in the public in risk of danger by driving under the influence, that officer doesn’t need to wear that badge.”
And the chief later said that courtesy will end at SPD.
“The officer has the discretion to make an arrest if they deem necessary, so we’re going to give you a copy of our current policy, but I assure you as soon as y’all leave, that policy is going to change. It’s going to read the officer shall make an arrest.”
Columbus officials told WCBI it is a personnel matter about whether a city employee picked Alexander up in a city vehicle and whether they were on the clock.
We have asked if there is a city policy about this type of issue and have not received a response.