An earlier blog post, which can be read here, discussed Sergeant Jim Porter of the Kitsap County Sheriff's Department and his contentious incident where he was discovered drunk while sitting in the driver's seat of his Jeep, in two different parking lots in one night. Just recently, Sergeant Porter announced his intent to retire in a one-sentence memorandum published on January 31 .
Sergeant Porter's Department History and Alleged DUI Controversy
Sergeant Porter served in the Army and then came on board with the Department in 1992, was promoted to Sergeant in 2003, and was even awarded deputy of the year in 2009. An annual sheriff's report further revealed that Porter held responsibilities including that of being a field training officer, a supervisor of the marine services unit, and even serving on the SWAT team -- starting as a team leader and ending as the team commander.
Sheriff's spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson stated that the internal Department investigation is still pending with respect to Porter's alleged DUI and that “[d]isciplinary action could still be awarded” even though Porter already announced his retirement. Much controversy still exists over how Porter was treated by fellow Officer Jennifer Corn, who has known Porter for the past 17 years. Corn arrived on the scene -- finding Porter under the influence and in his vehicle -- while wearing a body camera. The camera was on while Corn was speaking to intoxicated Porter, but later Corn had turned the camera off when sheriff's supervisor Ken Dickson arrived to discuss the investigation. Turning the camera off is permissible under the department's body camera policy. Still, public sentiment turned skeptical under the suspicion that Porter received special treatment since he was not arrested. Wilson speculates that Dickson determined there was no probable cause to continue investigating the scene since no one actually witnessed Porter drive his vehicle.
Poulsbo Police Department is now analyzing several policies, and Poulsbo Police Chief Al Townsend said the department “will be reviewing this policy and recommending that.. body cameras remain active during the entire interaction when the subject of the investigation is another law enforcement officer or person of influence, such as an elected official, to ensure additional transparency.”
Porter Also Has a History of On-Duty Car Crashes
Porter's problems don't end at his current DUI controversy. Kitsap County Sheriff's Department documents reveal that the Sergeant was reprimanded three times in three years for on-duty vehicle collisions. The most recent collision was only two weeks before the Poulsbo DUI incident. Porter was driving his patrol car in Kitsap County in the morning. A vehicle was stopped, waiting for traffic to turn left, and Porter failed to stop the patrol car and hit the vehicle. The patrol car received over $8,000 in damage and the other car was totaled. Porter also backed into a concrete post and scraped against a detective's patrol car before the latest event.
Sergeant Porter has faced a litany of press after his most recent DUI incident -- one that garnered much criticism of how officers handled the situation. A lesson that we can all learn is this: that the facts and evidence available to convict anyone of DUI rest on a variety of factors, including whether a driver was in “physical control” of the vehicle, plus footage gathered from police cameras. If you have been charged with DUI, do not challenge the criminal justice without a skilled DUI Defense Attorney who knows the myriad of procedures and defenses available to help your case.