Latest DUI incident with IMPD officer raises questions

IMPD Captain Mark Rice
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Yet another Indianapolis Metro Police officer is in trouble for drinking, the fourth one in as many weeks. This time a commanding officer, Captain Mark Rice, is charged with driving drunk.

In 30 years with the department, Captain Mark Rice, fellow officers say, had never been in any trouble. Now the east district commander may lose his job.

"I'm extremely disappointed," Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said. "With all IMPD's been through, we still have officers who choose to drink excessively or show up with alcohol in their system."

Near Indianapolis International Airport Saturday just after midnight, an airport police officer saw Rice's Cadillac hit a median. The officer's report says Rice looked intoxicated, smelled of alcohol and admitted having a couple of beers. His clothes were soiled. He failed field sobriety tests. Blood tests are underway.

Rice was off-duty, driving his personal car, and not in uniform. Could he be fired? Riggs says yes.

"It is fair to say anyone involved in excessive alcohol, excessive drinking, showing up for work with alcohol in their system could face termination," he explained.

 Last month, New Palestine Police arrested an off-duty Indianapolis officer for allegedly driving drunk.

Two weeks ago fellow officers say Bryan Neal came to work drunk. He's charged with drunk driving.

Another officer recently tested positive for alcohol while at the shooting range.

Is the problem is getting worse, or is IMPD doing a better job of policing itself, with less tolerance and greater enforcement?

The directors of all eight public safety agencies were recently ordered to review, remind employees and enforce the zero tolerance alcohol and drug policies. Supervisors are being trained to spot behavioral problems. Additional free counseling programs are becoming available for officers.

Troy explained, "We can get assistance for them but there is a line you can't cross and you can't return."

Because Rice was off-duty, he was not suspended. He's on administrative duty.

The recommended discipline for off-duty alcohol violations is 30 days with no pay. Termination is recommended for violations committed while on duty. However, Riggs believes the higher the rank the higher the level of accountability. Charges aren't likely to be filed until the Marion County prosecutor has the blood test results.