Phoenix police detective, sergeant arrested in separate DUI incidents

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX – Two Phoenix police officers have been arrested for alleged drunk driving, adding another chapter to the story of a department that has been the center of controversy for the past few months.

According to Sgt. Mark Ortega of the Surprise Police Department, one of the officers was arrested three weeks ago. The other was cited over the weekend.

The first officer, identified as Detective Cameron Scadden, 42, was stopped for a traffic infraction near RH Johnson Boulevard and Bell Road in the early morning hours of Feb. 18. The officer saw Scadden's police identification as he reached for his driver’s license. When asked about it, Scadden said he worked for the Phoenix Police Department.

After a field sobriety test was administered, Scadden, 42, was taken to the police station where officers had him blow into an Intoxilyzer®, which is an alcohol breath testing device. Ortega said Scadden blew a concentration of .107 the first time and .111 the second time. Both results were well above the legal limit of .08.

Scadden was cited and released.

The second incident took place on March 5 shortly before noon. Sgt. John Flanagan, 41, was pulled over for speeding near Greenway and Litchfield roads. Just like what happened with Scadden a few weeks earlier, the officer saw Flanagan’s ID. Flanagan willingly told the officer he worked for the Phoenix Police Department.

Believing he smelled alcohol on Flanagan’s breath, the officer administered a field-sobriety test.

Like, Scadden, Flanagan was taken back to the police station for an Intoxilyzer® test. Flanagan also consented to a blood draw. While the blood test is not back yet, the Intoxilyzer® returned results of .178 and .170, which is more than twice the legal limit.

He, too, was cited and released. Because the charge in Flanagan's case could be aggravated DUI, police are waiting for the results of the blood test to file.

“In both cases, they called a lieutenant they work for, a supervisor in the Phoenix Police Department,” Ortega explained. “We also made sure we made contact with that supervisor and let him know that we had arrested their people.”

Ortega insisted the two officers were not shown preferential treatment.

“Citing and releasing for DUI is a common practice, not just with our department, but many departments,” he said. “You have to have a criteria that has to be met before you can do that.”

Ortega said his department looks at DUI history, as well as the behavior and level of cooperation of the subject. He said they also try to determine if the person arrested might be a flight risk. Finally, officers determine if there is a responsible party to whom the subject can be released, somebody who can and will take charge and make sure the subject gets home safely.

“In both cases, the vehicles were impounded so there wasn’t a threat of them getting back in and driving,” Ortega said. “This is the criteria we’ll use with a construction worker, an office worker, anybody.”

Arizona has some of the toughest DUI laws in the entire country, requiring mandatory fines, jail time ranging from 24 hours to 10 days, license suspension for at least 90 days, and the installation of an ignition interlock device for first-time offenders.

News of the arrests of the two Phoenix police officers on suspicion of DUI comes just a week after the department’s chief, Public Safety Manager Jack Harris, was reassigned amid allegations of manipulating kidnapping statistics in order to obtain federal grant money. While Harris retained his title and duties as public safety manager, he no longer oversees the daily running of the police department.

Auditors with the U.S. Justice Department are reviewing the numbers that sparked the controversy. In the meantime, spending of the $1.7 million the city Phoenix received has been frozen and interim Police Chief Joe Yahner has taken over day-to-day operation of the department.

Even as they story was unfolding, another scandal broke, this one involving alleged drug theft and evidence tampering. Those allegations came up after a routine random audit in January. Investigators said the alleged crimes could have been going on for years. A Phoenix detective resigned amid the investigation.