Breaking News
More () »

New Port Richey police did not arrest drunk detective

10 Investigates raises questions with New Port Richey police after a detective is not arrested for DUI after officers noticed he was driving drunk.
New Port Richey police

New Port Richey, Florida -- There are questions tonight about the actions New Port Richey police took against one of their detectives when they realized he was driving drunk. Some people are concerned this detective was not treated like anyone else.

The pictures show the horror of an April 2015 crash in New Port Richey where the driver was instantly killed after hitting a Duke Energy pole. The police wanted off-duty Detective Chris Denton to investigate the fatal crash. However, New Port Richey Police Chief Kim Bogart says Denton never should have driven from his Wesley Chapel Home to the crash scene.

The chief explains, "When he arrived on the scene other officers noticed he had an odor of alcohol about his breath and he was unsteady."

Attorney Leslie Sammis says, "He should have been treated like everyone else."



Sammis, who specializes in DUI defense says Denton, an expert prosecution witness in DUI cases, including one she is defending, got special treatment.

Sammis points to the fact Denton wasn't arrested despite several officers statements saying "it was obvious Denton was under the influence of alcohol," "speaking with a thick tongue and appeared to be unsteady on his feet," "Denton was impaired by alcohol," "and an odor of alcoholic beverage was emitting from Denton."

Sammis says, "They are talking about how they thought he was impaired. It equates to having probable cause."

LEARN MORE:Report report from Denton case

Probable cause allows an officer to make an arrest, but Bogart says the supervisors decided an arrest wasn't appropriate.

According to Bogart, "In this particular case, it was a very good officer, well respected in the department, very hard working, and he made an egregious error."

Instead of arresting the detective and taking him to the Pasco Detention Center in Land O'Lakes, a supervisor ordered that not only Denton be driven to police headquarters, but also that he submit to a breath test -- where he blew twice the legal limit.

And under what's called the police bill of rights, any information gathered in an internal affairs investigation -- which this had now become -- cannot be used for criminal prosecution.

We asked the chief, "Wasn't there probable cause? Didn't he get a break by not just charging him instead of ordering him to take the breathalyzer?"

Bogart responded, "I'm not going to second guess my field commander for the decision he made. When he told me what he did I told him that was absolutely the right decision."

This isn't the first time New Port Richey police refused to arrest of a person they knew.

In 2013, Port Richey City Manager Tom O'Neil was found passed out in his car and found to be four times over the legal limit, but wasn't arrested

Sammis calls it is a form of corruption saying, "If you have information and you don't act on it for a friend or a fellow officer the same way you would if it was anyone else to have made under the same circumstance."

Denton was allowed to resign instead of being fired.

Meantime, Denton is still being used as an expert witness in DUI trials and the Pasco State Attorney's Office neglected to tell defense attorneys why Denton left the force and the head of the office said the defense attorney should have been told.

Before You Leave, Check This Out