IMPD officer arrested for DUI

Santa pictured with his K9 partner, Bart (IMPD photo)
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A Metro Police officer was arrested early Wednesday morning on preliminary charges of driving drunk. It's the second time in two weeks that an IMPD officer was arrested on drunk driving charges.

State Police say Ronald Santa, 43, was arrested at 12:31 a.m. at the intersection of Harding and Hudnut Blvd. on the southwest side after several calls to 911 reported an erratic driver in the area.

State Police say a trooper stopped Santa, who was driving his IMPD K-9 vehicle. Supervisors from both departments were called to the scene and Santa was given a field sobriety test, which he failed, according to ISP.

Troopers took Santa to the Arrestee Processing Center, where he was booked on misdemeanor charges of driving while intoxicated and operating a vehicle with blood alcohol content of .10. In Indiana, a driver is considered legally drunk with a BAC of .08.

There were no other passengers in the vehicle at the time of Santa's arrest. His K-9 partner, "Bart" was also not present in the car.

IMPD released a statement about Santa's arrest Wednesday afternoon.

"The IMPD is in the process of conducting its own internal investigation of the incident last night.@ During the interim, Officer Santa has been assigned to administrative duties, with no police powers.@ He has also been referred to the Employee Assistance Program as well as to the IMPD's Office of Professional Development and Police Wellness," the release stated.

Santa was also accused of driving erratically in his K-9 squad car on I-465 in December of 2010. He tested positive for alcohol when an IMPD supervisor went to his home and he was subject to an internal investigation at that time.

Some Marion County residents were in disbelief over a second IMPD officer being arrested for DUI in as many weeks. A Morgan County deputy arrested IMPD Officer Kevin Brown last week for allegedly driving drunk. He is already suspended pending the outcome of his investigation.

"They are supposed to enforce the law and watch for the well-being of the people. When they go drinking and driving, I don't think that is right," said Anna Adams.

"They ought to set a higher standard than normal people do and they should not go out drinking and driving because that endangers the public too," said James Tharp.

IMPD Chief Rick Hite calls this a sad day for his police department. He is emphasizing help is available for any of his officers through the department's wellness program.