NEW YORK (WPIX)—NYPD personnel have been at the center of three fatal alcohol-fueled accidents in just the last three months. All the crashes happened in the early hours of the morning, and now the Detectives Union is taking a second look at the late night shifts investigators work. In question is the 7 hour turn-around when detectives leave the precinct at 1 a.m. and have to be back at 8 a.m.
"When you have individuals that live outside the city and finish up at 1 a.m. or later, and they have to be back at work prepared at 8 in the morning," explained former NYPD Detective Charles Lieberman, "For those individuals often time it's not worth it to travel all the way home to catch a few hours of sleep to be back at work."
Dr. Charles Lieberman, who also works at John Jay College, used to work the 4-to-1 and the 8-to-4 shift. He says fatigue is a well known problem and if detectives choose to go out drinking instead of home to bed, sleepiness can compound the effects of alcohol.
"Some of the research conducted shows that individuals awake for 19 hours straight can have the equivalent of a .05 blood alcohol level," said Lieberman.
Less than two weeks ago, Detective Kevin Spellman allegedly ran a red light and killed a Bronx grandmother after a night of drinking. He refused a breathalyzer test.
A month before that, homicide detective Timothy Duffy went out drinking after a working from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. He died after crashing into a garbage truck.
Detectives Endowment Association President Michael Palladino says he doesn't believe the 7-hour turn-around played a role in the accidents, but he told PIX News, "there is a fatigue and exhaustion factor with respect to the turn-around and there is a spin-off issue with regard to what detectives are doing in their off hours. "
"Police officers as in any other profession are social creatures and for some of them whether or not they get off at 1 a.m. whether they have to be back at 8 a.m.," said Lieberman. Sometimes the only place to socialize is an establishment that serves alcohol."