Baker Resigns as Alexandria Police Chief After DUI Arrest

Upon his arrest Saturday, Alexandria Police Chief David P. Baker had a blood alcohol level of .19 and had failed four sobriety tests, police say.
Upon his arrest Saturday, Alexandria Police Chief David P. Baker had a blood alcohol level of .19 and had failed four sobriety tests, police say. (Courtesy Of Arlington County Police Department - Courtesy Of Arlington County Police Department)
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By Allison Klein and Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Alexandria Police Chief David P. Baker ended his 40-year career in law enforcement Tuesday with a short, melancholy letter to the members of his department, three days after his drunken driving arrest.

"It is with a great deal of humility and remorse that I announce my retirement from the Alexandria Police Department," he wrote. ". . . Words cannot describe the pride I feel having had the opportunity to lead such a great department."

His undoing came Saturday night in Arlington, where he collided with a car, sending the driver to the hospital. His blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit, Arlington police said. He failed four field sobriety tests and was charged with driving under the influence, court documents show.

City Manager James K. Hartmann accepted Baker's resignation and ended the internal investigation he opened Sunday into the incident. He said the resignation is effective Friday. Baker will receive his full retirement benefits.

"We hope that this unfortunate incident will not eclipse the stellar service and commitment that he has shown to the city of Alexandria," Mayor William D. Euille (D) said at a City Hall news conference. "Regretfully, this is a wise decision to allow the police department and the city to move forward."

City Attorney James L. Banks said Baker, who was placed on administrative leave after his arrest, resigned just before city officials were to meet with him as part of the investigation.

Banks said city officials do not know where Baker was before the accident or what he had to drink, because they did not have a chance to speak with him. With the investigation now closed, the officials will not interview him. Hartmann has said that Baker was not at an official city function.

Baker declined to comment through his attorney, James Clark, who said Baker thought his resignation would be best for the city.

"After a lot of introspection and a lot of lost sleep, it became crystal clear to him that for him to remain would be compromising the ideals that got him there: Giving the citizens the best he's got," Clark said. "He thought his ability to serve had been compromised."

Alexandria Sheriff Dana A. Lawhorne said Baker is a "stand-up guy" who loves the city.

"I think he did what he thought was best for the city," Lawhorne said. "He thought it was time for everybody to move on. It's his thing to deal with."

Details of Baker's arrest emerged this week. It happened about 10 p.m. near Interstate 66 and North Fairfax Drive in Arlington. Baker, driving a city-issued green Ford Explorer, tried to merge onto Interstate 66 and collided with a car.

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