The off-duty police officer arrested in Thornton this week on suspicion of driving drunk was the Boulder Police Department's DUI enforcement officer -- and also the second member of the department to face drunk-driving charges in the past month.
Officer Elizabeth Ward, 36, was the Boulder Police Department's only officer currently assigned solely to DUI enforcement, Chief Mark Beckner confirmed Thursday.
While all officers are tasked with enforcing DUI laws, Beckner said the department assigns certain officers to specialize in drunk-driving enforcement. The number of officers tasked with DUI work can fluctuate depending on the department's resources, Beckner said.
Beckner also confirmed Thursday that Ward's arrest
comes less than three weeks after Detective Scott Morris was arrested on suspicion of DUI by the Boulder County Sheriff's Office.
"Just one incident would have me concerned, so having two is very concerning, absolutely," Beckner said.
On Thursday, sheriff's officials declined to release the report documenting the arrest of Morris on Nov. 15. Boulder police officials said they could not discuss the details surrounding that case.
Both Ward, who has been with the department since 2007, and Morris, who has been with the department since 2000, have been placed on paid administrative leave.
An internal investigation will be completed and a review board will have the option to recommend discipline. The discipline, which must be approved by Beckner, could range from verbal reprimand to termination.
In Ward's case, according to police reports, the officer was driving northbound on Interstate 25 around 2:15 a.m. Tuesday when an off-duty Arvada police officer reported she was weaving between lanes and driving 40 mph in a 65 mph zone. The off-duty officer called in to report Ward and then followed her.
By the time an on-duty Thornton officer reached Ward, she had pulled off the side of the road on her own, according to police.
When asked why she had pulled over, Ward said, "I'm drunk," and the officer noted an odor of alcohol and that Ward's speech was slurred and her eyes were bloodshot and watery, according to the report. When she exited the car to perform roadside a sobriety test, officers noted she had a hard time standing up and eventually declined to perform the maneuvers.
Thornton police took a sample of Ward's blood and issued her a county summons for weaving and DUI. She was then released into the custody of a Boulder police sergeant after being booked into jail, according to the report.
Ward declined to comment when reached at her home Wednesday.
Morris could not be reached for comment Thursday. ___