Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Detective Karen Almos Arrested for Drunk Driving

A San Diego police detective was arrested Saturday on suspicion of drunken driving when she was found sleeping in her parked car at Balboa Park, authorities said Tuesday.

Detective Karen Almos, 47, a 16-year department veteran, has been assigned to administrative duties as an investigation continues, police Detective Gary Hassen said.

Hassen said paramedics found her in a parked vehicle about 3:25 p.m. on Pan America Plaza. She later was identified as a police detective, and San Diego police arrested her, Hassen said.

Almos was booked into Las Colinas jail in Santee, then released on bail set at $2,500, a jail record shows.

San Diego police Lt. Kevin Mayer said the state Vehicle Code section on drunken driving “gives officers a lot of leeway” in making arrests.

“The officers looked at all the evidence and believed they had enough to arrest her for this offense,” Mayer said. “This case illustrates that criminal behavior by our officers, on or off duty, is not tolerated. The chief has made this clear.”

The Vehicle Code says a DUI arrest may be made if the person is “in or about a vehicle” that obstructs a road, or if the person might cause injury or damage if not immediately arrested.

“What if we walked away, knowing the person could potentially hurt somebody?” California Highway Patrol Officer Jim Bettencourt said. “You can’t assume someone’s going to sleep off their intoxication.”

CHP Officer Kevin Pearlstein said an officer’s arrest report would note certain facts, such as seeing the person in the driver’s seat with a key in the ignition, and ask how the person got there and whether they had been drinking.

A fundraising event involving police, the Kiwanis Club and the public had been held earlier in the day at the location of Almos’ arrest outside the Balboa Park Club.

The 11th annual Guacamole Bowl, with teams preparing guacamole dip recipes for judging, raised more than $14,500 for the Sports for Exceptional Athletes program for developmentally disabled children and adults, said Clara Downes, the program’s associate director.

Downes said Tuesday that no alcohol is served at the fundraiser.

Four law enforcement teams were among the 26 teams that prepared and served guacamole samples. Members of the public paid $5 to taste the samples and vote for their favorites, Downes said.

No information was immediately available about whether Almos attended or participated in the Guacamole Bowl. Mayer said he has not confirmed whether she was there.

The event was open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but teams started at 8 a.m. to fix their recipes, Downes said. She estimated that more than 2,000 people attended, including some of the athletes in the program.

The National Latino Peace Officers Association took first place in the law enforcement division, while a team fielded by the San Diego Metropolitan Credit Union winning the overall top prize, Downes said.

Last April, San Diego police Detective Jeffrey Blackford pleaded guilty to misdemeanor drunken-driving charges related to a December incident in which he crashed his unmarked police car into a roadside utility box.

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