Iowa City Police officer charged with OWI

REGINA ZILBERMINTS

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An Iowa City police officer is on administrative leave after allegedly driving drunk and refusing to cooperate with officers.

Iowa City police Sgt. Sidney Jackson was charged Feb. 21 at around 4 a.m. with OWI and interfering with official acts.

According to UI police, Jackson was sitting in a vehicle with the door open. He smelled strongly of alcohol and had bloodshot eyes, officers said.

Jackson admitted he had been drinking, but denied driving, though there were tire tracks in the fresh snow, according to police reports.

Authorities said Jackson walked away from the officer and refused to cooperate with testing, later refusing a breath test. Jackson was injured during the arrest.

Iowa City Police Chief Sam Hargadine confirmed Jackson, a 20-plus year veteran of the force, was not on duty at the time and was driving his personal vehicle.

Jackson was a lieutenant at one time, but Hargadine said he couldn’t comment on why he now has a sergeant title or when this change was made. Articles from July 2007 identified Jackson as a lieutenant.

An Iowa City police officer discovered Jackson, but requested assistance from UI police after he realized Jackson appeared intoxicated, Hargadine said.

Jackson’s future with the department is pending while officials csomplete an internal investigation, Hargadine said. An internal investigation differs from a criminal investigation in that it’s an administrative action, he said.

“We are not so much concerned with prosecution as much as whether a person should remain employed,” Hargadine said.

When a police officer is accused of committing a crime, several sets of rules kick in, he said. Iowa City police have internal personnel rules and procedures, the City of Iowa City has its own personnel rules, and on the state level there is the Iowa Peace Officers Bill of Rights. All these must be followed, and that’s in addition to any criminal proceedings.

“Just like we have due process on the criminal side, there is due process on the employment side,” Hargadine said.

But an internal investigation is conducted independently from the criminal proceeding, he said. The criminal case will likely stretch for several months, while most internal investigations take a few days.

Though anything that is admissible on the criminal side is admissible in the administrative hearing, that’s not true the other way around. Nothing an officer says during an interview for an internal investigation can be used against him or her in a criminal hearing, according to the law.

Though no specific numbers were available, Hargadine said internal investigations are not uncommon, and the department conducts reviews often. Every weapons discharge, rudeness complaint, and each complaint to the Police Citizens Review Board is followed by an investigation, Hargadine said.