August 11th, 2009 5:33 pm | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Cops and Courts

Driving With Smirnoff: Portland Cop with DUII May Keep His Badge


The state agency that licenses police is on track to let a Portland cop keep his badge despite driving with an empty bottle of Smirnoff and being convicted of DUII and reckless driving.

The police policy committee of the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training today voted unanimously to recommend that Central Precinct Officer Brian Hubbard be allowed to retain his state-issued police certification.

The recommendation now goes to DPSST's full board, which will make the final decision on Hubbard's status in October.

Hubbard has not yet returned a phone call seeking comment.

Washington County Sheriff's Deputy Jason McLaughlin — one of Oregon's DUII enforcement officers of the year for 2008 — arrested Hubbard on Feb. 6 shortly after 9:30 p.m. at an intersection near Beaverton where Hubbard crashed his silver Chrysler into a ditch.

All the following details of the arrest are taken from McLaughlin's report. You can download a PDF of the key portion here.

Deputy Brian Waterbury was first on the scene and saw Hubbard stumbling and leaning against his car. Hubbard told Waterbury he had two guns, one on his side and the other on his left ankle. Waterbury seized the guns and unloaded them.

When McLaughlin arrived, he immediately smelled a strong odor of alcohol and saw Hubbard's eyes were bloodshot and droopy. When he and Waterbury asked Hubbard how much he'd had to drink, Hubbard gave varying answers, including:

"Too much."

"Dude I'm totally I'm." (Not making sense to us either.)

"Two shots."

"Three shots."

And on one occasion he denied he'd been drinking at all.

McLaughlin noticed Hubbard's speech was extremely slurred. He was swaying back and forth so badly he almost fell over, so McLaughlin had him lean against his patrol car.

McLaughlin couldn't even administer some of the roadside sobriety tests because Hubbard simply stared at McLaughlin and didn't follow orders, because his head wouldn't stop swaying, and because asking him to stand on one foot would be too dangerous due to his poor balance.

McLaughlin notified his sergeant, Ryan Hickey, of the arrest. Hickey called an on-duty sergeant at the Portland Police Bureau. Meanwhile, Deputy Tony Carley arrived and found an almost-empty 50-ml bottle of Smirnoff vodka next to the driver's seat.

When he arrived at jail, Hubbard told McLaughlin, "I fucked up." He blew a .250 blood-alcohol content, more than three times the legal limit of .08 percent.

Instead of spending the night in jail, Hubbard was cited and released to Portland Police sergeants Jeffrey Niiya and Brian Ossenkop (second item down in the link).

On March 23, Hubbard pleaded no contest to DUII and was sentenced to a diversion program. On April 6 he pleaded guilty to reckless driving and was sentenced to 18 months of probation and a $370 fine.

The police policy board at DPSST doesn't take up every case where an officer gets a DUII. But this case was more serious because Hubbard also pleaded guilty to reckless driving, says Eriks Gabliks, the agency's deputy director.

Gabliks said the board was impressed with a letter Hubbard wrote, and they felt the police bureau had properly dealt with the matter.

"They felt that the bureau and the officer did the right thing and that the issue was addressed," Gabliks says. "In some cases, (officers) kind of dance around the issue. In this case he wrote one of the better letters that they had seen."

Detective Mary Wheat, a Portland Police spokeswoman, declined to say whether or how the bureau punished Hubbard, citing personnel privacy rules.

Hubbard was assigned to the Telephone Reporting Unit after his arrest — in some cases, that unit serves as a purgatory for officers whose status is in question. But Wheat says last month Hubbard was put back onto Central Precinct's street crimes unit, where he patrols the downtown entertainment district (see the third-to-last paragraph in the link).
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