Citizens outraged after BC officer accused of working drunk
Updated: Monday, April 8 2013, 10:42 PM EDT
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) — A Battle Creek police officer, who's been in trouble before, is now facing two misdemeanor charges, accused of being drunk on the job.
Sunday night, we told you Battle Creek police officer Jennifer Appl was placed on paid administrative leave after investigators say she showed up to work drunk. You may recall Appl was also a passenger in a drunk-driving crash with a fellow officer in 2012.
As you might imagine, this is something many people here in Battle Creek are talking about tonight and some are asking why Appl was allowed to work Saturday night and she wasn't forced to get help for her problem with alcohol before this.
Investigators say Officer Appl was allowed to work patrol for two hours after she showed up at work smelling of alcohol.
Peter Kobs of Battle Creek Citizens for Honesty in Government says, “I felt angry that she was put to work on the night shift. She was put to work behind the wheel of a car, apparently, and sent out to protect our community in a drunken status."
A preliminary breath test showed she was over the legal limit. That's when Battle Creek asked Michigan State Police to get involved.
According Lt. James Coleman of the Michigan State Police, “It was a matter that was sensitive to them so they asked us to look into it for them and give the impression of no bias or anything like that."
A second test later showed Appl was not over the legal limit. However, she’s now facing charges of operating while intoxicated and possessing a firearm while intoxicated, something Battle Creek neighbors are concerned about.
"We want to trust our police force, not fear them, and it starts with transparency," Kobs says.
He says allowing Appl to patrol on Saturday night put the community at risk. "There has to be some way where if an officer is thought to be drunk when they come in for work that they aren’t put behind the wheel of a cruiser."
We know this isn’t the first time Appl has had trouble to with alcohol. In fact a letter from July 2012 shows Battle Creek Police Chief Jackie Hampton told her he was concerned about alcohol affecting her performance at work.
"If you notice a problem on the job, that’s a serious issue," Hampton says.
Later that month, Appl was a passenger in a drunk-driving crash with a fellow officer. Her blood alcohol was four times the legal limit.
At this point, the city manager says it's hard to say if Appl will be allowed to keep her job, but Kobs says she shouldn't be allowed to serve Battle Creek any longer.
"I don’t think that after this many episodes that she should be behind the wheel of the police cruiser, especially with a weapon."
The city manager says he plans to meet with the police chief in the next few days to discuss how Appl will be disciplined for what happened.