It comes as no surprise to read that I am a strong and out-spoken defender of the Madison Police Department. As such I care about the tone and content of other visible voices who share my concerns. Today one of those voices, Paula Fitzsimmons, made a dreadful effort that damages the larger cause and shows at the same time why perspective matters with every issue.
It was reported yesterday that a Madison police officer is back on patrol after she was charged last month with drunken driving. The officer, Kelly Hoeft, was charged in July with first-offense drunken driving after she was seen in June going through a Southwest Side intersection and striking some signs.
According to the criminal complaint, on June 1 shortly before 10 p.m. a caller reported seeing a dark blue minivan go through the intersection of Raymond Road and McKenna Boulevard, taking out a couple of signs in the median.
Hoeft was stopped on Dolphin Drive by an officer, who noticed there was a child in her minivan. Hoeft, who identified herself with a police identification card, told the officer, “I’ve definitely been drinking,” the complaint states.
A breath test found that Hoeft’s preliminary blood alcohol concentration was 0.27 percent, more than three times the limit for drivers in Wisconsin, according to the complaint.
I know most people find that story truly disturbing. Fitzsimmons did too, but for all the wrong reasons. Worse she made them public on a site that she has set up to grow support for police issues.
Kelly Hoeft is a human being who made a poor choice – and she’s paying for it dearly via the legal system and court of fickle public opinion. With Swiss watch predictability, the usual cop-hating cabals are using this incident to condemn not only her, but to vilify the Madison Police Department.
And the local media handed it right over to them. Out of all the big stories our journalists could report on, this is what they ran with? WISC-TV even chose this as their lead story this evening.
What Fitzsimmons wrote in just two paragraphs demands a public response. So this is what she needs to know.
Hold on just a minute!
The person who made this a news story is Kelly Hoeft who had a staggering BAC and then decided to drive a car. My family has been touched with the impact of drunk driving (my sister’s best friend killed by a drunk driver). So it seems to be my duty to inform you what Hoeft did was much more than “a poor choice.” It very well could have been a deadly choice.
To not report this story on the news would have been a travesty. The placement of the story in the top tier of events seems to meet the smell test as it was a local event concerning a matter that makes for headlines almost daily. That being drunk driving. This time by a person we pay a salary to as taxpayers, and a person who has a duty to stop those who drink and drive!
I get your desire to be involved with policing matters in the city. I wish more were so inclined. But you do the larger issue you care about much damage when you fall all over yourself in trying to defend the indefensible. Fight your battles with more care for the sake of those who care about messaging.