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School resource officer fired after suspected of drunk driving in cruiser

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Natalie Weber

Tampa Bay Times

A school resource officer at a Pinellas County high school has been terminated by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office after investigators came to believe he had been driving drunk in his marked police cruiser while off duty, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said on Tuesday.

Internal affairs records show Deputy Christopher Greene, 33, was terminated on Dec. 20, two days after Hillsborough deputies said they found him passed out behind the wheel of his sheriff’s office vehicle in Brandon. Greene was hired by the Pinellas sheriff’s office in 2019 and worked at Hollins High School in Kenneth City.

Greene could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday at phone numbers listed under his name.

Hillsborough deputies found Greene in his vehicle on Dec. 18 at West Brandon Boulevard and North Kings Avenue, according to the Pinellas Sheriff’s Office. Greene was off duty and had driven the vehicle to a liquor store, Gualtieri said.

Greene told Hillsborough deputies he had diabetes and needed to go to the hospital, Gualtieri said. Once there, he called a former girlfriend to come pick him up and left before he was discharged, Gualtieri said.

Hillsborough County Sheriff spokesperson Marco Villarreal said Greene was taken to the hospital due to health concerns.

“Subsequently, deputies found containers inside the vehicle that appeared to contain alcohol, after the driver was no longer at the hospital, so we were unable to test for impairment,” he said in an email.

Because of that, Greene is not facing any criminal charges in connection with the incident.

The Hillsborough agency had alerted the Pinellas sheriff’s office of the incident before Greene had left the hospital. A Pinellas sergeant was headed to the hospital to see Greene, but rerouted after Greene left and, with the help of Hillsborough deputies, tracked Greene down at his father’s place.

The Pinellas sergeant ordered Greene to take a portable breathalyzer test, which was used for the Pinellas agency’s internal investigation into the incident, Gualtieri said. The test showed that Greene had a breath alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit, the sheriff said. However, the test could not be used as admissible legal evidence since he was compelled to take the test for administrative purposes, Gualtieri said.

Gualtieri said he could not speak to why Hillsborough was unable to pursue a criminal case, but said his agency decided to fire Greene based on the information they had regarding the incident.

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office policy states that employees who drive drunk will be fired. Gualtieri enacted the policy in 2013 after two deputies and a corporal from his agency were arrested on DUI charges that year.

Gualtieri said the policy has helped cut down on the number of sheriff’s office employees who drive drunk.

“I’m not tolerating it,” he said.

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