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Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 01:07 pm

Springfield fire captain arrested a third time

Promoted despite DUI history

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Capt. Tomas A. Dodd

A captain in the Springfield Fire Department could be disciplined after his third drunken driving arrest since 2005.

Capt. Thomas A. Dodd, 51, was arrested on Dec. 30 shortly after 6:30 p.m. when an employee of a gas station on West Wabash Avenue called 911 to report an unconscious motorist outside the station’s car wash. The employee told police that she woke the man by yelling and knocking on his window. The motorist had to back up and pull forward several times before he finally lined his vehicle up with the car-wash entrance, the employee reported. He had just gone through the car wash and was at a stoplight when officers arrived.

Officers reported that Dodd weaved as he drove on Wabash and kept going for two-tenths of a mile to his home after police turned on emergency lights and an air horn. When police asked why he had not stopped earlier, Dodd told officers that he was afraid that he would be arrested.

“He stated that once he got home, he thought I would give him a break and not arrest him,” the arresting officer wrote in his report. “I asked him, ‘Arrest you for what?’ And he stated ‘I can’t get another DUI. Look, I’m a city employee just like you. If I get another DUI I’m gonna lose my job.’ I told him to step out of his truck.”

Police found a cup containing what smelled like whiskey and cola in Dodd’s truck. Dodd, who refused sobriety tests, urinated in his pants at the jail, police reported.

Springfield fire chief Ken Fustin said he learned about the arrest a day or two after Dodd was taken into custody. The state is supposed to suspend the driver’s license of anyone who refuses a breath test or when a test shows a blood-alcohol content of .08 percent or higher. Fustin said that Dodd’s position as an engine captain does not require a valid driver’s license. Fire department employees can be disciplined for off-duty behavior, Fustin said, but he would not say what, if any, disciplinary measures the department might take.

Dodd was first arrested on Oct. 9, 2005, after he nearly rear-ended a Leland Grove officer who was getting out of his patrol car after stopping another motorist, according to a police report. Police reported that Dodd, who refused sobriety tests, was staggering so badly that an officer had to hold onto his arm as he was led to a squad car.

Two months later, Dodd was arrested again, this time by Springfield police, after he rear-ended a van driven by a woman who was five months pregnant. The accident occurred shortly before 10 a.m. on Dec. 22, 2005, just three weeks after Dodd pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving in the Leland Grove case. The cab of Dodd’s pickup truck smelled like whiskey, and police found a spilled drink and ice cubes on the floorboard.

Dodd refused sobriety tests, but a blood test taken after police got a search warrant more than four hours after the accident showed a blood-alcohol content of .126 percent. Testing also revealed the presence of several drugs, including venlafaxine, a drug typically used to treat anxiety, depression and panic disorder, and three benzodiazepines, a class of drugs commonly used to treat anxiety, depression and insomnia. Testing also revealed a metabolite of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in Dodd’s urine. He pleaded guilty to DUI.

Since his second arrest, Dodd was promoted from firefighter to captain. Why?

“He was eligible for promotion at that time,” Fustin answers.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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