Pittsburgh Police Officer Facing DUI Charges
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh Police are filing DUI charges against an officer after they say he allegedly came to work intoxicated Friday night.
Police say 38-year-old Officer Vernon Gibson, of Pittsburgh, is facing charges of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.
According to the criminal complaint, Gibson pulled into work in the parking lot of the Municipal Courts Building just after 11 p.m. where a police sergeant was waiting to take him to UPMC Mercy Hospital for mandatory random drug and alcohol testing.
The criminal complaint reports that when Gibson got into the vehicle, the sergeant “immediately noticed his eyes were bloodshot, glassy and watery.” He also smelled of alcohol and his speech slurred slightly.
At the hospital, the criminal complaint reports that Gibson was given two breath tests 15 minutes apart, and “the lowest of the two readings was 0.128 percent.”
The sergeant then took away Gibson’s service weapon and a pocket knife, according to the criminal complaint.
The criminal complaint says Gibson also underwent urinalysis at the hospital, as well as performance, intoxilyzer and more breath tests.
The officers released Gibson and took him home.
“Fundamentally, the issue here – if a guy has a substance abuse problem, get him some help, get the support he needs, but we have a real question of trust here,” said Elizabeth Pittinger, of the Police Review Board.
But Pittinger says Gibson’s problems are even more serious because he was previously charged with felony insurance fraud in 2011.
“Insurance fraud means that you’ve deliberately misrepresented something, and the job as a police officer, we’re counting on them being truthful and honest at all times,” said Pittinger.
Since then, he’s been working in the warrant office at Municipal Court.
Gibson was placed in a program called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, or ARD, which allows first-time offenders to fulfill certain requirements in order to get the charges dropped.
But questions have been raised about his qualifications to work as a police officer.
“A while ago, state police notified the City of Pittsburgh indicating that he was… because of this charge he was no long qualified to access criminal databases and criminal history databases and that sort of thing; nonetheless, he has remained on the job,” said Pittinger.
Acting Pittsburgh Police Chief Regina McDonald has issued this statement regarding the incident: “Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Officer Vernon Gibson has been arrested on DUI charges. The charges will be reviewed and disciplinary action is pending. The case is under investigation as the Chiefs await the arrest and disciplinary action documents. Appropriate action will be taken and Officer Gibson has been placed on Administrative Leave pending the internal investigation. Other concerns with Officer Gibson cannot be discussed as they are internal personnel issues. Officer Gibson is currently assigned to Support Services at the Municipal Courts Building.”
The Fraternal Order of Police has also released a statement: “The Fort Pitt Lodge #1 of the Fraternal Order of Police told KDKA-TV News that Police Officer Vernon Gibson is a member of the F.O.P., and that the organization will ‘continue to support him, as long as we can.’ F.O.P. Local President Michael LaPorte says the F.O.P. is also waiting for results of the Pittsburgh Police department’s investigation of this incident.”
Gibson will be charged by mail summons.