Updated Tue, Mar 20, 2012 1:06 pm
A former Ohio University police captain is fighting his firing following an investigation into a suspected case of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
Mark Mathews was terminated March 9 after he refused the university's last-chance offer of a demotion, a 30-day suspension and random alcohol testing while on duty.
The offer came after an interdepartmental investigation by OUPD Chief Andrew Powers found Mathews failed to report the December 7 incident in which he was pulled over by Athens Police around 12:30 a.m. for speeding on East State Street near US Route 33.
Police Chief Powers said the Athens police officer asked for Mathews driver's license, registration and proof of insurance. He said Mathews could not find his proof of insurance, but provided his driver's license and OUPD identification card.
The officer reported smelling alcohol on Mathews and asked if he had been drinking. When Mathews responded he had "a couple of beers," the officer called in his supervising lieutenant. The officer administered a field sobriety test and according to the report, found four of six indicators Mathews was close to or over the legal blood alcohol limit of 0.08.
Officers did not give Mathews a portable breath test, and they did not arrest or ticket him.
The Athens police officers asked Mathews to park his car in a nearby parking lot and find another way home. Mathews then told the officers he would stay with a friend who lived on Elmwood Place, within walking distance.
According to Powers, Mathews admitted to having 80 ounces of light beer in a five-hour time span on the night in question. Mathews told Powers he did not feel intoxicated at the time of the traffic stop.
In his report, Powers said Mathews showed up for work more than six hours after the traffic stop, possibly still under the influence of alcohol.
"Although we will never know for sure what the actual numbers were, reporting for duty with any chance of still being under the influence is completely unacceptable and a violation of OUPD policy," wrote Powers.
Mathews was placed on paid administrative leave December 9. A pre-disciplinary hearing was conducted on January 25 with OU Human Resources.
The hearing found Mathews violated OUPD policy relating to Criminal Conduct and Conduct Unbecoming/Off Duty Conduct. The panel recommended Mathews be given the last-chance offer or be terminated.
In a letter to Linda Lonsinger, Chief Human Resources Officer, Mathews declined the offer.
"I believe the conclusions in this memo accompanied in the offer are not only extremely vague but also fail to capture the entire incident and situation," writes Mathews. "I further believe that the discipline spelled out in this memo, as it relates to this incident that took place off campus and off duty, is entirely too punitive."
Matthews has filed a Grievance Procedure for Contract Employees with the university, on the grounds of "termination without merit and without just cause", according to a letter from his lawyer.