Dallas residents were shocked in early May when police officer Senior Corporal Sean Paul Mock was arrested and booked into Dallas County jail on one count of driving while intoxicated. The kicker? He was on the job when he got caught.
Mock, aged 34, was taken into custody at about 2:15 a.m. while he was on duty and sitting in a parked squad car. He posted a $500 bond and was released. Officials have not released any additional information related to his arrest. He has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
In Texas, someone can be found guilty of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) if they are found operating a motor vehicle in a public place with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08. Also, any individual who is found to not have full control of their mental or physical faculties due to the consumption of drugs or alcohol can be considered intoxicated, regardless of their BAC. It is not clear what Mock's BAC was at the time of his arrest.
Mock's DWI is especially problematic because the public places so much trust in law enforcement officers. People count on officers to be fair, responsible, reasonable, and, above all else, sober. For an officer to be consuming alcohol while on duty could further erode public trust in law enforcement agencies, during a time when trust is already at an all-time low.
It's not clear what punishment Mock may face. In Texas, a first time DWI is often reduced to a lesser charge, but when that happens the defendant usually receives a 3-day minimum jail sentence. The jail sentence can be as much as a 180-day maximum sentence. The defendant usually must perform community service hours, probation, driver's license suspension, and participation in a drug or alcohol abuse education program. All of these punishments increase if it is not the defendant's first DWI and people charged with three or more DWIs can face felony charges.
Mock's position as a police officer complicates sentencing him to jail. Still, police officers committing crimes is hardly unheard of. A study a few years ago found that hundreds of police officers are arrested every year for committing the very same types of crimes they arrest others for committing, and 41% of those crimes were committed while the officers were on duty. And the crimes the officers were arrested for the most? Simple assault, driving under the influence, and aggravated assault.
Like any other citizen, Mock is entitled to defend himself and hire legal representation. However, unlike other citizens, his DWI very likely has put his job in jeopardy, a shame since Mock was previously honored for rescuing a man from a lake. But the position police hold in society is too important for officers to make bad decisions like drinking while on duty. When it comes to DWI, police are definitely not above the law.