A message from Casper Police Chief Jim Wetzel

(Casper, Wyo.) – The Casper Police Department and Casper Police Chief, Jim Wetzel issued the following statements: As has been previously reported, Casper Police officers conducted a traffic stop on October 25, 2015, on a vehicle with a driver suspected to be intoxicated. The driver was subsequently charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). A motion hearing to suppress evidence in the case was filed. Ultimately, the breath test results in this matter were suppressed; however, probable cause for the stop of the defendant was upheld. As such, this matter is still pending trial in the Municipal Court. During the suppression hearing, issues were raised concerning the officers’ deviation from normal DUI arrest procedures in processing the defendant. In particular, it was learned the defendant was, at that time, the acquaintance of a Casper Police Officer. Consequently, rather than booking the defendant into the Natrona County Detention Center, the officers issued the defendant a citation for DUI and arranged for the defendant to have a ride home. An evaluation into the officers’ decision-making and the reasons for their deviation from normal procedure in this case is currently underway. In this case, the Municipal Court Judge believed there was not sufficient evidence presented in the suppression hearing to show that the defendant was technically arrested prior to being read implied consent. As this is required for admissibility of the breath test, the Judge ruled the breath test results were not admissible and therefore suppressed. The fact that officers elected to not take the defendant to jail, but rather to release with a citation was not illegal, and is allowed by Wyoming law. It is important to reiterate, the officers appropriately charged the defendant with DUI in this matter. However, I recognize the question of preferential treatment by a police department as a legitimate and concerning question. Transparency and accountability to our community in situations like this is of utmost importance to me as the Chief of the Casper Police Department. I want to ensure the community that the appropriateness of the officers’ decisions will be scrutinized and properly addressed as a personnel matter. #oilcity #news