ELKHART — An Elkhart police officer could have a 30-day unpaid suspension coming.
Cpl. Scott Haigh drove while intoxicated on Dec. 18, 2018, and received a one-year suspended jail sentence in late 2019 after pleading guilty.
He will serve the sentence on reporting probation that can be modified if he lives up to the plea agreement.
In the 2018 incident, Haigh was arrested after Elkhart Police responded to a two-vehicle accident at Third and Franklin streets around 2:34 p.m. He was off duty at the time and told police that he had not been consuming alcohol but had taken a generic form the prescription medication Ambien that is used to treat insomnia. Tests confirmed that Haigh was not under the influence of alcohol.
He told police he had taken two 10 mg tablets of the sleep medication at midnight and one tablet at 2 p.m., 34 minutes before the crash.
On Monday, Police Chief Chris Snyder asked the Police Merit Commission to suspend Haigh without pay for 30 days and remove his take-home vehicle privilege for 90 days.
"The officer did not take the medication, we believe, as it was prescribed," Snyder said.
A judge forced Haigh to undergo a substance abuse evaluation, addictions assessment and treatment if needed.
After having conversations with Haigh, Snyder trusts that the officer no longer takes the sleep medication.
"We don't believe there will be further incidences," the chief said.
Haigh was not present, but Snyder informed the commission that the officer just wants to get the situation over with and that he will accept the disciplinary action.
After being asked by the commission, deputy city attorney Randall Arndt advised that the commission should require written documentation that Haigh does not want a hearing before they accept the disciplinary action.
"I trust what the chief is saying, but we have no actual form of notice. And because we're asking to take away some rights of his, I would prefer to have a written notice that he knows that this is going on," Arndt said.
The commission tabled its decision.
Public information officer Lt. Travis Snider said that Haigh has returned to work. He was suspended with pay from Dec. 19, 2018 until August 2019 when Snyder urged the Merit Commission to make the suspension unpaid.
Snider said on Monday that the chief would not currently comment on whether the proposed 30 days of unpaid leave would be counted as part of the suspension that Haigh already served or whether he would be suspended again.
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