Saturday, July 29, 2006

Caught with pants down

The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel printed this report
Report details DUI fiasco

Officer found guilty about to return to work

By Lisa J. Huriash
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted July 26 2006

Plantation · A veteran officer and police academy DUI instructor was driving drunk, naked from the waist down, and speeding on Florida's Turnpike at 90 mph when she was pulled over by an Orange County Sheriff's deputy on the night of Dec. 9, according to a Plantation Police Internal Affairs report released this week.

She had a large open bottle of Southern Comfort in her car, which her attorney later argued was used to train police recruits.

Officer Laurie Primeau, 47, has been suspended without pay until Aug. 8. The 1994 Plantation Officer of the Year has been with the department for almost 27 years.

The report states she drew the attention of a police officer when she swerved into his lane and "almost collided" with him.

"I asked her, `Where are your pants?' and I think she answered, `I don't know,'" Deputy David Alvarado told Plantation investigators.

Alvarado said he asked for backup because "I didn't want to be alone too long with a naked female on the side of the road."

He asked her again about her pants and she reached for her sweatpants and she put them on, he said.

Alvarado told investigators that Primeau "was sweating real bad. Her face was real red. Her eyes were bloodshot." He told investigators she failed a few sobriety exercises.

Primeau refused a Breathalyzer test, according to the report, and Orange County Animal Control was called to take custody of two dogs she had in the car while she was taken to jail. She remained there for five days until she called a bail bondsman.

The Internal Affairs report shows she told investigators that "she does not know how to perform the finger to nose test" and she "extols her expertise as a DUI instructor ... ." Primeau was found guilty of drunken driving in a Jan. 26 criminal jury trial in Orange County. Her attorney argued the whiskey bottle was used for police academy training, which she had performed earlier in the day, according to records. The location of the training was not disclosed.

Primeau was given a speeding ticket, fined $647 and sentenced to 50 hours of community service. Her driver's license was suspended for 180 days, and she was put on a period of probation that ended Tuesday.

According to police, when Primeau returned to work with a suspended license, she worked in the dispatch unit and in "odd jobs" in the communications department.

Her suspension from the department began June 27. When she returns to work again in August, she will be placed back on road patrol, city officials said.

Police Chief Larry Massey, who was on vacation Tuesday and unavailable for comment, wrote a June 22 memo to Primeau, citing her years of "exemplary service and a virtually spotless record" that included multiple letters of commendation. He also tells her in the memo "there will be no second chances." If she violates department policy or engages in drunken driving again, the chief told Primeau, "I am placing you on notice that you will be terminated."

Although Massey said she gave a statement under oath to Internal Affairs that differs from the Orange County Sheriff's Office reports -- Primeau told investigators she was driving only 55 mph, was wearing a bathing suit bottom and the bottle found in her car did not have alcohol, but had been washed out with dish soap -- Massey writes: "You simply may have been too drunk to remember exactly what happened."

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