DUI Arrest Is Officer's 4th This Year

By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A veteran Prince George's County police lieutenant was charged recently with driving under the influence of alcohol -- for the fourth time this year.

Two of the drunken driving charges against Lt. Kenneth W. Parrish were dropped by county prosecutors, one of them in a plea deal and the other when the arresting officer failed to appear for a court hearing.

Parrish, 44, was suspended with pay in February after he was charged with driving under the influence while operating a county police cruiser off-duty in Laurel. Acting county Police Chief Roberto Hylton said that police officials take Parrish's conduct seriously and that internal investigations are continuing.

"We understand this is a public safety issue," Hylton said.

In the most recent incident, Parrish was arrested Friday when Montgomery County police found him asleep behind the wheel of his Cadillac Escalade near a gas pump in Silver Spring, with the car in drive and his foot on the brake pedal, according to a charging document.

A breath test showed that Parrish had a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit for driving under the influence, the document says. Parrish was unable to stand on his own and admitted to drinking a half-pint of vodka that morning, the document says.

Efforts to reach Parrish this week were unsuccessful. A lawyer who represented him in some of the previous cases did not return a phone call. The president of the county police union said fellow officers have been attempting in recent days to reach Parrish, without success.

Hylton said Parrish, a 20-year member of the police force, had an exemplary record before the recent arrests. Hylton said Parrish has had a difficult year, struggling with the death of his mother and the breakup of his marriage, events that the chief said prompted the lieutenant to drink excessively.

"He's taken a downward spiral," Hylton said. "Everybody's shocked."

Under the auspices of the police department's employee assistance program, Parrish has been treated for alcohol dependence, and police officials and the police union are trying to reach out to the lieutenant to offer support, Hylton said.

"We are not giving up," Hylton said. "We have offered all sorts of help and counseling. We are going to continue to reach out to him."

Parrish is assigned to the 6th District in Beltsville. If the internal investigations into the four incidents find no wrongdoing, Parrish would still have to be cleared by a departmental medical board before he could return to duty.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company