BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) - The recently retired Battle Creek police chief says the punishment handed down to a "super drunk" off-duty officer and the lieutenant who drove him home proves that officers can't get away with protecting each other in the city.
"The chief and the higher leadership saw that wasn't the way we do things, and Chief Hampton had to take the action that he did, showing that the system does work, even when somebody tries to subvert the system," retired Chief David Headings said on Monday.
"There is no 'Blue Line' here in Battle Creek. We made sure that there is none."
Off-duty officer William Gensch had a blood-alcohol level of 0.285 when he crashed a car into signs, mailboxes and a curb just after the bars closed on July 31.
Neither Gensch nor his passenger, Jennifer Appl, who had a blood-alcohol level of 0.369, were injured.
Lt. Todd Madsen drove both officers home without making any arrests, and without taking the tests usually required to build a drunken driving case.
"The only thing I can explain...is that the officers are trying to protect the department too much," Headings said.
Headings said prosecutors still could charge Gensch with drunken driving, but acknowledged the lack of a sobriety test and a blood-alcohol test will make it tougher to convict him.
Chief Jackie Hampton demoted Madsen to sergeant, with no chance for future promotions, and suspended
Gensch for 20 days.
On Sunday, The Battle Creek Enquirer said the department didn't go far enough, writing in an editorial that Madsen should be fired.
"That's the first knee-jerk situation is to fire everybody, not taking into consideration the fact that he's the highest decorated officer, puts his life on the line many times," Headings said of Madsen.
Headings, who retired two years ago, said Gensch never gave him trouble.
"A good officer," he said. "I'm sorry that his name came up in that, and that he had a lapse of judgment; it was very poor judgment on his part, very poor."
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Two other people, who were inside the residence at the time, escaped safely.
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