Mixed opinions on new drunk-driving initiative for police - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Mixed opinions on new drunk-driving initiative for police officers

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They are Houston's finest, hitting the streets 24/7 to protect us, but there are those days when some off-duty officers may want a drink.

That's why the Houston Police Officers Union, Mothers against Drunk Driving and Yellow Cab have set up a program to keep those officers from getting behind the wheel after drinking.

They've created a prepaid card for Houston Police officers who are out drinking.  If those officers have one too many to drive, they can use the card to pay for a taxi to take them home.

"This is not an officer who has to be drunk," HPOU's Ray Hunt said.  "It could be an officer who's had one or two drinks who just doesn't feel comfortable driving home.  We're not going to ask any questions on their level of intoxication or anything else."

A similar program is in Dallas.  HPOU officials said it is a way to protect their officers but also encourage businesses to do the same for their employees.

What does the public think about this program?  It depends on who you ask.

Raickiel Allen said in the past week, a drunk driver hit her and took off.  She has a different view when it comes to officers who may have a little too much to drink.

"I can see if you're off completely off duty, I can understand, but I feel like cops are on duty 24-7, so you don't think cops should be getting drunk," Allen said.  "No, hey, I feel if you do you should do it from the comfort of my home, take it to your home."

There are some who say officers are getting preferential treatment.

"There's a lot of concern about drinking, period.  A police officer out, I don't know if you should treat him different than you do a regular patron."

In the meantime, union officials want to emphasize this program, which has been in effect for a few weeks at HPOU, is not an indicator there is a drinking problem among its members.

The Houston Police Department released the following statement:

Any initiative in any organization to help keep our streets and highways safer is welcomed. This particular initiative from the HPOU to support its members is similar to any company or organization that offers healthier lifestyle options to its employees. I expect all my employees to conduct themselves responsibly on or off duty.  

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