- Associated Press - Sunday, August 30, 2015

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - Law enforcement officials and prosecutors in Vermont say they are troubled by the number of public safety works who have been charged with impaired driving this year.

The Burlington Free Press reports (https://bfpne.ws/1VoDwEF ) that at least eight public safety workers - including firefighters and state and local police officers - have been arrested so far this year.

Vermont Assistant Attorney General John Treadwell told the Free Press it “seems like an unusually high number.”

Three of the eight have pleaded guilty; the other cases are pending.

All cases involve first-time allegations of driving under the influence and two of the cases involve charges of impaired driving while on duty.

The Free Press reports that in the previous two years, one to three public safety officers have been charged with driving under the influence.

Among those still facing charges is suspended Burlington police officer Leanne Werner, who was off-duty when she crossed the center line and crashed into a car driven by a 74-year-old man, who died of his injuries. Werner, 30, has pleaded not guilty to drunken driving with death resulting and gross negligence resulting in serious injury in connection with the July 12 crash.

“It’s disturbing, certainly, that people in law enforcement who have, in many cases, first-hand knowledge of what driving under the influence can do, that that would be a choice that would be made,” Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn told the newspaper. “That’s also a view I hold in regard to anyone who operates a motor vehicle when they’re under the influence of alcohol, under the influence of a drug, or both.”

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