WESTMINSTER, MD. -- Six state police troopers and a corporal here have temporarily lost the off-duty use of their patrol cars because they didn't make enough drunken-driving arrests in 1987.
The sanctions are scheduled to remain in effect at least 30 days, Chuck Jackson, a state police spokesman, said during the weekend. At the end of that period, he said, the officers' performance will be reevaluated and the privilege of taking police vehicles home could be restored.
"But if their participation in the highway enforcement effort, particularly with regard to drunk driving, does not increase there could be other actions taken," he said.
The seven state police officers made 10 drunken-driving arrests among them in 1987.
The privilege of taking home a state police cruiser is extended to most uniformed officers throughout the state, in part because it helps establish a round-the-clock police presence in the community where the officer lives.
Although denial of that privilege is not a formal disciplinary step, it is expected to work a serious hardship on the officers involved. They often depend on their police vehicles to get between home and the barracks.
The sanctions were ordered last week by 1st Lt. Knut E. Ellenes, commander of the Westminster barracks. Ellenes also issued another directive last week setting higher "DWI performance objectives" for 1988, according to the Baltimore Sun.
"These are not quotas. They are minimum expectations," Jackson said.
Other barracks commanders also establish goals and objectives, the spokesman said.
Ellenes apparently is the only commander who has taken action against officers who fail to meet a numerical target for arrests. Jackson said the only similar instance he could recall also involved Ellenes, when he was commander of the Glen Burnie barracks in 1984.
Jackson refused to identify any of the officers involved.
Five of the seven were expected to make a minimum of four arrests for the year, Jackson said. Three of them made two arrests, and two of them made one each.
Two of the seven troopers had been asked to make two drunken-driving arrests each for the year. They made one apiece.
The barracks commander was responding to a statewide directive last spring that noted the number of drunken-driving arrests by state police had been declining during the previous three years, Jackson said.