Drinking is part of the police culture.The article is filled with examples of officers binge drinking with other officers then getting in serious accidents. The story opened with these anecdotes:
“They drink a lot, and they drink together,” said John Violanti, a research associate professor at the University at Buffalo and a former New York state trooper who studies police stress and alcohol use. “It’s part of the macho image, part of being a cop.”
Experts on police, and many officers, say cops drink because of peer pressure and high stress levels. They get into trouble with alcohol because they feel invulnerable and, as society’s helpers, are less likely to show weakness by seeking help. As mores change and technology advances, they’re more likely to get caught and their colleagues less likely to risk assisting them in covering up their problems.
Kelly Beemer drank heavily at a South Dallas bar before hitching a ride home in a squad car, where she fired a gun through the floorboards.Other tales included an officer who showed up at a SWAT assignment with alcohol on his breath and later, in another incident, was found passed out in a running city vehicle with a can of Foster's in his lap. Despite those lapses, he was allowed to remain on the force eleven more years until another DWI forced his resignation. So some of these issues arise form lax police management giving second and third chances to chronically alcoholic officers, even when they drink on the job.
Rachel Nicely downed margaritas at a Greenville Avenue bar before climbing behind the wheel, hitting a parked car and being arrested for drunken driving.
Jesus Cisneros had eight beers and four shots at a birthday party and later slammed his city vehicle into another car, killing the driver.
All were police officers with promising careers. All drank heavily with other off-duty officers on the day they got into trouble.
Their careers were ruined.
A treatment provider said that "suppressing trauma and stress" is a root cause of alcoholism in law enforcement, but it's also clear that peer pressure to participate in police drinking culture begins well before officers ever hit the street. According to one expert quoted, "Rookies are indoctrinated into the brotherhood in blue and the culture of alcohol consumption at the police academy." One of the ex-Dallas officers interviewed said that's where her problems started:
Former Dallas police officer Shelly Pierce said in an interview that she drank a lot while in the academy and afterward. She typically drank, off duty, with other officers and a shared expectation that it was going to be a wild night.First-rate reporting by Eiserer on a seldom-discussed subject. As she'd reported in a 2009 story, roughly 89% of police suicides (which occur far more frequently than deaths in the line of duty) involve alcohol abuse, so this subject not only impacts the safety of the public (nobody wants a drunk in uniform wielding a gun or arrest authority) but also the officers themselves.
“When we go out, we’re going out,” said Pierce, who lost her job over a 2006 drunken-driving arrest. “We’re getting drunk. We’re going to be the loudest. All the attention is going to be on us. … It’s because of that whole ‘shock and awe’ thing. I’m going to be the one that shocks.”
Laura Brodie, a California-based psychologist who worked with the Los Angeles Police Department’s employee assistance program, said she has found a lack of moderation prevalent in the police culture.
“It’s all or nothing,” she said. “When they get into drinking, they start competing in their drinking.”