The Addictions Coach: Police Officers Turning to Drugs and Alcohol to Cope with the Stress of the Job
With all the recent national headlines bringing our attention to society beginning to turn on law enforcement officers, we are starting to see a spike in our police now turning to drugs and alcohol to cope with the stress. This is already a high stress job that requires a lot of patience and people skills to function, so this new wave of society turning against police at an all time high seems to be contributing to these same officers consuming substances that are definitely impairing their judgement and landing them in hot water.
Here locally in Miami, a recent example of this happened in Aventura. For years, Opa-locka’s police force has been ridiculed as the place where almost any officer, even one with a criminal past, could get hired. When Maj. Peter Cruz was hired in 2013, he already had a fat internal affairs file, filled with complaints ranging from perjury to conduct unbecoming an officer for allegedly superimposing fellow officers’ faces on pornographic photographs he distributed to the department. Despite his history, Opa-locka Police Chief Jeffrey Key, with whom Cruz worked at the North Miami Police Department, not only hired him, but promoted him. Now, Cruz is behind bars. He was arrested before dawn Monday on charges that he crashed his city-issued pickup truck while driving under the influence in Aventura.
According to the police report, Cruz was so impaired that he kept falling down, stumbling from side to side and losing his balance after crashing his truck into a fence along a busy pedestrian thoroughfare at about 6 a.m. He refused to take a field sobriety test, and when Aventura officers told him he was still going to be criminally charged, he said “I’m f—–,’’ the report said. Cruz, 56, who was off duty, was charged with two counts of driving under the influence and damage to property, according to the police report.
The report said Cruz drove through an intersection at Northeast 199th Street and West Country Club Drive, lost control and crashed into a solid wooden fence. His truck plowed across the popular exercise trail behind Aventura Mall near the Turnberry Isle resort and became perched on a bank of trees. Cruz stumbled out of his truck, and told responding officers, in slurred speech, that he was trying to turn left, but wasn’t able to complete the turn. He was alone in the silver Ford pickup and walked away from the accident unscathed. “I could detect a strong odor of alcohol emitting from his breath as he opened his month and spoke, along with bloodshot watery eyes and a flush face,” wrote the arresting officer, adding that Cruz “stumbled when he attempted to walk” and “nearly fell off the fence after losing his balance.” Cruz refused to take a field sobriety test, telling officers: “I ain’t doing those tests man.” During processing at the Aventura police station, Cruz stripped completely naked, and was placed in a holding cell. He urinated on himself in his sleep, the report said.