Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Officer Jennifer Penney Arrested for Drunk Driving

The city's police chief said he is "shocked and saddened" by news that an Alton officer is facing a driving under the influence charge after her arrest last week in Foster Township.

"I've confined her to desk duty until she has her first court appearance," Chief David Hayes of the Alton Police Department said about Officer Jennifer Penney, 36, of Alton. "She is accountable for the choices she has made, and I don't expect treatment any different" from any other person.

"Otherwise, she is a good police officer who has a spotless service record," Hayes said.

Hayes also noted that Penney is "presumed innocent until proven guilty. She will be afforded all of the rights and privileges under a court of law."

Madison County Circuit Court records show Penney's court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 4.

Hayes said he ordered the detective division to conduct an independent, internal affairs investigation of the case.

Capt. Brad Wells of the Madison County Sheriff's Department said someone called authorities at 8:30 a.m. Friday to report a "suspicious vehicle occupied by a woman who appeared to be unconscious" in the 1200 block of West Woodfield Drive in the Woodfield subdivision.

The area is just west of Seminary Road and south of Seiler Road.

Wells said a dispatcher sent paramedics from the Fosterburg Fire Protection District to the location, where they found Penney inside a parked, 2005 Chevrolet pickup truck.

"When they arrived, it did not appear to be a medical problem," he said. "She appeared to be under the influence, and the police investigation started. Witnesses who had contact with her said the parked vehicle was running prior to us arriving. It was not running when we arrived."

Wells said the deputy "established enough probable cause" to charge Penney with driving under the influence. He declined to elaborate or say whether the deputy conducted field sobriety tests or whether Penney underwent a test to determine her blood-alcohol content.

The truck Penney was occupying is not owned by the city of Alton, Hayes said.

Penney worked as a jailer for the Police Department from January 2002 until the Alton Civil Service Commission hired her Nov. 18, 2006, as a probationary police officer.

Penney and her then-husband, David, were only the second married couple to both work as police officers at the Alton department. They since have divorced.

Jennifer Penney previously served in the U.S. Army Reserves' 318th Psychological Operations (PSYOP) in Jefferson Barracks in South St. Louis County, Mo.

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