MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A Mobile police officer is the focus of an internal investigation as a result of a picture taken by a FOX10 News viewer.
The viewer who took the picture Saturday claims the off-duty police officer purchased beer from a convenience store, and had three small children in his patrol car.
Chief Micheal T. Williams said Wednesday, surveillance video from the store on Downtowner shows the officer did not buy alcohol.
"According to the video evidence that we've seen, the officer went into the store, purchased a fountain drink. It was placed in a cup and he walked to the counter and paid for that. Prior to that officer walking up to the counter who was obviously in plain clothes there was another gentleman that walked in and bought what appeared to be a six pack or two of beer," the chief said.
The chief said even though the surveillance video makes it clear the officer did not buy beer. He's still in trouble for violating the departments take home vehicle policy, and that could lead to disciplinary action.
"It would appear at this point that the officer used his vehicle in violation of our take-home car policy," Chief Williams said.
Chief Williams explained off duty officers can use their patrol cars to drive to court appearances, for extra jobs involving security, or overtime assignments during events Bayfest and Mardi Gras. Personal use, like a run to the store is not included, and like the chief talked about having children in the police car.
"Now, personally, I wouldn't put my children at risk by putting them in a police car, because there are a lot of dangerous people out there. There are people out there who are specially there to injure or endanger the lives of policemen and their families," he said.
There are about 600 cars in the fleet, and Williams said a large number are taken home by officers, detectives, administrators and others who may be called out for emergencies. Williams said when a violation occurs it represents a misuse of taxpayer money, which could hurt the entire program.
"It jeopardizes all of those other critical sections that really need those cars," Williams said.
The chief said the investigation into the photograph is not complete, but he does have some advice for all of his officers.
"Whatever you do, wherever you go, and whatever you say expect to be recorded. You expect that," he said.
Chief Williams said the once the investigation is complete the officer could face discipline ranging from a letter of reprimand to suspension.
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