Monday, April 14, 2014

Officer James Stewart Arrested for DUI

 Springfield police officer James Stewart, a 15-year-veteran of the force, was arrested for driving under the influence early Saturday morning while off duty, according to a press release issued by the city Monday.

    Officers responded to a disabled vehicle in the 1600 block of Stevenson Drive where they saw Stewart behind the wheel of a vehicle.

    Stewart was arrested for DUI and taken to Sangamon County Jail. He is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of both the criminal and internal investigation, the press release stated.

    “The police department takes these allegations seriously, and it is an unfortunate situation,” Chief Kenny Winslow said in a statement. “As officers we are held to a higher standard. I remind you that Stewart, like everyone else, is entitled to his rights under the law.”

    Stewart’s lawyer, Dan Fultz, said Monday his client is concerned about the allegations and asks the public to let the investigation run its course.

    Stewart works in the field operations division.

Former Detention Officer Lauren Sandefer Arrested for Giving Vodka to Inmate

A former Harris County Sheriff's Office detention officer faces charges after authorities say she gave vodka and tobacco to a jail inmate.

Lauren Sandefer, 25, is charged with bringing a prohibited item into a correctional facility. She was arrested on Monday and bail was set at $5,000.

The sheriff's office says Sandefer was hired in April of 2013 and fired in February 2014 for smuggling contraband into the jail last September. Officials say she also let an inmate use her cell phone.

Authorities say Sandefer is the third former Harris County Jail detention officer charged with a crime this year for delivering contraband to inmates.

"My message has been clear all along. Anyone who commits a crime while guarding others accused of crimes will face the same brand of justice as the inmates," Sheriff Adrian Garcia said. "That is one of the many ways we run the nation’s third largest jail as a public safety facility accountable to the taxpayers and other law-abiding members of the public."

The department's Office of Internal Affairs is continuing to search for any evidence of delivery of jail contraband or other illegal conduct by staff.

"Fortunately more than 99 percent of our employees are honest, diligent and hard-working," Garcia continued. "It’s just a shame that the actions of a miniscule number of people put their co-workers' hard-earned, positive reputation at risk."

The sheriff's office says jail employees are no longer allowed to bring personal phones into the jail without special permission, nor can they bring in heavy bags such as backpacks.