As Saukville police officer Jeffery Jiracek awaits a potential jury trial on a drunken driving charge, Police Chief Bill Meloy is conducting his own investigation to determine how to address a situation he said he can't remember ever before occuring in the department.
Driving off duty, Jiracek rolled his vehicle Jan. 15 in the town of Belgium. He was arrested by the Ozaukee County Sheriff's Department for first offense of operating while intoxicated. His blood-alcohol content was later found to be 0.18, more than twice the legal limit.
"I take this stuff serious," Meloy said. "Sometimes people put themselves above the law, and that should never be the case with law enforcement. We should be setting the example."
Jiracek, who is on a paid leave of absence, pleaded not guilty Feb. 2 in connection with the incident and hired an attorney. Because of the not-guilty plea, a jury trial was automatically scheduled and a jury status hearing is set for May 23.
On the night of his arrest, Jiracek had finished his shift at 6 p.m., Meloy said. He then went to a bar in Port Washington, where the bartender later told Meloy she served him four to five beers, and four to five mixed drinks, according to the Ozaukee County Sheriff's Department report.
Jiracek reportedly left the bar at about 9 p.m. to go to a bar in Belgium, according to the report, and was found about 20 minutes later next to his rolled-over SUV on County Highway LL.
From the track marks, police could see Jiracek had been traveling north when he crossed the oncoming lane and over the west shoulder into a field, hitting a ditch where he rolled over. Police reported strong odors of intoxicants on his breath, and arrested Jiracek for operating while intoxicated.
Depending on the outcome of Meloy's investigation, and Jiracek's legal proceedings, he could be suspended or discharged from the Saukville department. However, there's also the possibility he could resign before that happens.
The Saukville Village Board approved a resignation agreement March 13, the Ozaukee Press reported, after negotiations with the police union for an officer who has been on leave since January. The village won't say which officer the agreement involves until the officer decides to sign it.
"I have not seen a signed document," Meloy said. "I've been waiting to see it, but I haven't heard from anybody."
Jiracek hung up the phone when Patch called him for comment. Several calls to his attorney were not returned.
Even if Jiracek does not resign or get discharged, he could face other obstacles in continuing his police work. For a year following the offense, any OWI first-offender with a blood alcohol content greater than 0.15 can only drive vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device.
Meloy said this would likely not be feasible for the department to accommodate.
"I would not allow it to occur," Meloy said. "He wouldn’t be able to drive our squad cars. Can you imagine how cumbersome that would be?"