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Investigators Find Police Chief Got Special Treatment in DUI Stop

April 14, 2010

RIVERSIDE, CA - Riverside police and city Investigators have found that former Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach received preferential treatment back on Feb. 8, when he was stopped by police after crashing his city-owned car following a night of drinking, the Los Angeles Times reported. 

Routine police procedure called for a field sobriety test, the collection of physical evidence (blood, breath or urine samples), and an arrest. Instead, the police officers notified their supervisors and were directed to drive the chief home, a city investigation has found. A handwritten police report was filed, but it omitted many details of the incident. 

The next day, the investigation was handed over to the California Highway Patrol, at the request of Riverside City Manager Bradley Hudson. 

Hudson has blamed police management for the mishandling of the incident. "Failures to take reasonable action occurred exclusively in the management ranks," Hudson wrote in a released statement. 

Leach reportedly had consumed 11 drinks and up to five prescription drugs before leaving a strip club in his city-issued Chrysler 300 vehicle on Feb. 8, the Press Enterprise reported. The incident was eventually the subject of probes by the Riverside Police Department's Internal Affairs, City Hall and the California Highway Patrol. The Riverside County District Attorney prosecuted the case, and Leach eventually stepped down from his city position and pleaded guilty to driving under the influence. He was sentenced to 30 days of home confinement, three years' probation, $1,700 in fines, and mandatory alcohol education programs. 

Leach paid the city $9,877 for damages to the city vehicle. 

Hudson said the Internal Affairs review, overseen by retired District Attorney Grover Trask, is nearly complete. He said he has ordered policy and procedure changes "to preclude the potential for -- or even the appearance of -- preferential treatment for any senior city officials or public safety personnel in DUI investigations."  

This week, Leach officially completed the home monitoring program he was sentenced to as part of his DUI conviction. Based on standard time-served credits, the monitoring was reduced from 30 to 15 days. He remains on probation. Leach will collect roughly half of his $241,000 salary through the medical retirement approved by the city and the state pension board, the Press Enterprise reported. 

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