A veteran Maine State Police sergeant accused of driving drunk while off duty Dec. 18 is urging his colleagues not to resent or be angry with the troopers who charged him.
“I understand there are many that are very upset that I was processed by our own and perhaps not ‘treated differently,'” Sgt. Robin Parker wrote in an email sent to troopers and obtained Wednesday by The Portland Press Herald.
“Although this anger may stem from a respect and appreciation for me as a person and trooper, they are not healthy. … I have no resentment towards these men and I ask that you don’t either,” he wrote. “We don’t need this to effect (sic) morale and the camaraderie we have amongst ourselves.”
Parker’s lawyer, Jonathan Goodman, said he was not involved in the writing or distribution of the email, but discussed it with his client after a reporter called him Wednesday.
“(Parker) heard a third-hand rumor somebody was upset about what has happened, and he interpreted that to mean they were giving the troopers involved a hard time, but he has no personal knowledge of anything like that,” Goodman said.
Steve McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, said he was unaware of Parker’s email, which was sent Friday. Top state police commanders did not return phone calls seeking comment.
McCausland said Trooper Duane Doughty stopped Parker in the northbound lanes of the Maine Turnpike in Gray on the night of Dec. 18. McCausland said the stop was made a few minutes after 7:59 p.m., when a motorist called police to report that a car was being driven erratically.
Soon after the stop, Doughty’s supervisor, Sgt. James Urquhart, arrived at the scene, as did another trooper, whose name McCausland said he did not know.
McCausland said it is customary for a trooper who makes an unusual stop — which would include stopping another trooper — to notify his or her supervisor.
Parker was given a blood alcohol test and issued a summons to appear Jan. 18 in Portland Unified Court on a charge of operating under the influence.
McCausland refused to disclose the results of any field sobriety test or breath test for blood alcohol content, saying only that “the charge speaks for itself.”
Under Maine law, a person is considered to be driving drunk if they have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or greater. A first offense does not require jail time. Driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent or higher carries a mandatory two days in jail.
McCausland said state police do not reveal blood alcohol content or other investigative details before a case gets to court, regardless of the defendant.
Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson, who said she handles most of the cases against law enforcement officers, cited the Criminal History Record Information Act to explain why authorities do not release information about blood alcohol content. The law says the state cannot disclose pre-conviction data, including investigative information.
Anderson said the case against Parker has not yet been presented to her office for review and she has no specific information about it.
She said she treats any law enforcement officer charged with a crime the same way she treats any other person. Decisions about whether a law enforcement officer is held to a higher standard are left to a judge, she said.
Parker has been highly respected in the Maine State Police. He was selected as a cadre supervisor at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, a position given to members of the force who are regarded as role models for recruits in the 18-week basic law enforcement school. He also has served as a supervisor at the state police crime lab, a hostage negotiator and a critical-stress debriefing team leader.
After graduating from high school, Parker served in the Marine Corps from 1984 to 1992. He joined the state police in 1994.
Parker is now on paid administrative leave, which Goodman, his lawyer, said is customary in such cases. He was removed from his position as a cadre supervisor at the academy because, according to the staff there, anyone in that position must have an unblemished record.
Parker’s position has been given to Urquhart, the sergeant who participated in Parker’s stop on Dec. 18. McCausland, the public safety spokesman, said the assignment is coincidental.
In his email to colleagues, Parker said he is responsible for his situation. He said it is painful, it will be hard, and he is ashamed and embarrassed. “But what I am saying is I own this and I’m prepared for the consequences,” he wrote.
He apologized to his colleagues for tarnishing the agency’s reputation and praised the troopers who dealt with him that Sunday night. He said they were not pleased with what they had to do.
Sgt. Michael Edes, president of the Maine State Troopers Association, said he was not surprised by the email because it reflects the kind of person Parker is.
“Robin has taken total ownership of this thing and I think he wants people to know he has,” Edes said.
He said some police officers will resent that Parker wasn’t allowed to avoid the charge because, as a law enforcement officer, he faces more serious consequences than the average person. Those consequences include suspension, demotion and even revocation of his law enforcement certification, which would prevent him from working as a police officer.
However, Edes said, few officers today would expect special treatment from their colleagues. He questioned whether the troopers involved are facing any backlash.
“You don’t hear anybody talking like that,” he said. “The majority of us just want to get past this.”
Urquhart and Doughty, who handled the traffic stop, could not be reached for comment.
Goodman, who has worked as a consultant for police departments in Maine, said giving special treatment to police officers who do wrong is not healthy, and is no longer tolerated.
“Historically, there was sort of this understanding that police officers gave each other breaks for things … and over the last couple of decades that’s changed dramatically,” Goodman said. “People have come to have greater expectations.”
Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: