Indianapolis, IN – A former Indiana University (IU) Health police officer is calling for policy changes after he was fired for stopping a drunk driver off hospital property.
Former IU Health Police Officer Damon Love said that thinking with his conscience cost him his job, WXIN reported.
Officer Love was on duty in the early morning hours of June 22 when he spotted a suspected drunk driver downtown.
"I called the IU Health Police Department dispatch to let them know I had a possible 1055 driver," he said.
The officer said the car was driving erratically so he initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle at 16th and Illinois Street, according to WXIN.
"I did notice this driver was swerving into oncoming traffic as we followed him and stopping in the street and then taking off," he said.
But Officer Love pulled the suspected DUI over in an area off hospital property, which is a violation IU Health Police Department policy, WXIN reported.
“IU Health Officers may stop a vehicle on their property if they spot a crime being committed; otherwise the dispatcher should contact IMPD and keep the visual on the vehicle,” according to the officer and dispatch manual.
"That rule is silly because as you can see, it puts the police officer in a predicament that's sworn to serve and protect. It didn’t say to only serve and protect on IU’s property," the former police officer told WXIN.
Officer Love’s termination paperwork said he was fired for “knowingly stopping a vehicle on a city streetway not on IU Health’s property.”
It said that he violated hospital rules and regulations and disobeyed a sergeant, WXIN reported.
The termination paperwork also said that because Officer Love had violated policy, the suspected drunk driver could not be arrested after the stop.
However, policy violations don't affect probable cause for local officers to make an arrest.
Regardless, officers called a safe ride home for the suspected drunk driver.
The recently-fired officer said that policy was stupid and needed to be changed, WXIN reported.
"Officers are going to be out grabbing food, or they are going to be at the CVS getting something to drink, and something is going to happen,” he said. “They’re going to freeze because they are going to think for a moment, 'Do I save my job, or do I save a life?'”
Former Officer Love said he planned to file a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, WXIN reported.