That’s why veteran, proven police officers are a valuable commodity.
But in Florida, a 4-year deputy being honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for making more than 100 DUI arrests was too “wasted” to pick up his award.
Pinellas County deputy Michael Szeliga showed up at a statewide police training event ready to “party,” reports a local TV news station.
Szeliga, who allegedly packed a bottle of booze for the 2-day training event in Fort Lauderdale, was “staggeringly drunk” at the Friday night banquet where he was slated to receive the MADD award.
A 274-page report on the deputy’s behavior indicates he and two other officers skipped out on DUI training to go to the hotel pool and sip liquor. Instead of receiving training, Szeliga drank, swam and played “cornhole” until he saw his fellow deputies leaving training. Then he returned to his room to get ready for the awards ceremony.
According to the report, he was so intoxicated the police chief from Gulfport, Florida, suggested Szeliga skip the event. The deputy then made “disrespectful” comments towards the police chief, who reported the shenanigans to Szeliga’s boss.
Another officer reported seeing the deputy wearing “nothing but boxer shorts” in the hallway of the hotel.
Szeliga said the training was not necessary because he was being transferred out of the DUI unit. He now works as a detective in the sheriff’s crimes against children unit, which seems like a promotion.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri credited Szeliga with being a good deputy but also expressed his disapproval of the MADD affair. “It was wrong, and again, one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard of,” Gualtieri said.
The deputy was suspended for one day and wrote an apology to the Gulfport police chief.