July 21, 2011 12:41:00 PM
This is a direct result of another "zero tolerance policy." The use (abuse?) of alcohol and/or other drugs while "on the clock," whether in public or private employ, should not be acceptable. What''s good for the goose is also good for the gander. If you''re going to fire "peons" for violating employment policy or regulations, then the top echelon needs to also suffer the same consequences, otherwise the leaders cannot command the respect of their subordinates. That''s one of the reasons why "zero-tolerance policies" are not such a good idea. No one law or rule can possibly cover every situation or person.
Now for all of you who aren''t first responders, I used to be one. As a first responder in the medical, fire, and law enforcement fields, I have seen and done things that many people cannot and will not do. I understand when someone feels the need for "help" after some encounters and calls. Alcohol is too easily available and abused when counseling is the answer.
I used to drink "like a fish" but quit long before I started volunteering my time as a responder. My drinking destroyed my marriage to a sweet, beautiful, young woman, and when I quit I determined that I would never again let alcohol destroy a part of my life. It is a very hard habit to break, as is smoking, another nasty, expensive, unhealthy habit I finally stopped after watching my mother die from cancer.
What have I done as an FR that some others couldn''t? I helped load the body of a college freshman boy into the coroner''s wagon after a wreck on Father''s Day; I worked the scene where a young boy was shot in the head and killed by a friend while playing with a stolen pistol neither knew how to handle; I''ve picked up the body parts that weren''t too small to pick up, after a crash; I''ve helped cut the bodies out of mangled vehicles.
Some jobs require a person to be available 24/7/365, and even casual "social" drinking can present a problem. Wasn''t a Lowndes County coroner arrested for DUI several years back when he left a party or something to go to the scene of a wreck with a fatality? No one is above the law, not the police chief, the mayor, governor, nor even the president. (Are you listening or do you even care, BHO?) All too often some think they are. If an apology or a "mea culpa" is good enough for them, why can''t it be good enough for the rest of us? If you can make it to a Legislature, the US Congress, or the White House, it often seems as if a pass on "indiscretions" is expected, and apologies come not because a crime was committed, but because the crook got caught.
Former Chief St. John appeared to have been a real boost to law enforcement in Columbus, and it is a real shame to see him go for any reason. Columbus will suffer as a result, at least temporarily. I wish him well in his future, whatever it may hold, and I wish him well in getting his drinking problem under control.