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Arizona: Police Lieutenant Gets Special Treatment During DUI Jail Sentence

Mesa, Arizona police lieutenant Rick Van Galder apparently thought he deserved special treatment after his DUI arrest – and he got it.

Van Galder was stopped by rookie officer Gonzalo Dominguez on February 12, 2016 after a concerned citizen called 911 to report a possible drunk driver. The inebriated Van Galder asked the young policeman to extend him “professional courtesy,” and was heard on dashcam video saying he found it “ridiculous” that Dominguez would consider arresting him. Nonetheless, Lt. Van Galder was taken into custody; he subsequently pleaded guilty to Super Extreme DUI for having a BAC of .200 or higher, and was sentenced to three days in jail and 11 days on house arrest.

On August 4, 2016, Van Galder self-surrendered to the Scottsdale City Jail, where he had made special arrangements to be housed to avoid doing his time in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Maricopa County Lower Buckeye Jail. He wasn’t strip searched during the booking process and was allowed to keep his clothing and shoes. Van Galder was allowed to stay in the office of Detention Manager Jeff Landrum, unsecured and unsupervised. Jailers delivered outside food to him, and his wife, a Mesa homicide detective, visited him twice outside of regular visiting hours. Later, after being released two hours early, Van Galder showed his appreciation by giving each of the jail employees a thank-you note with a gift card.

An internal affairs investigation into Van Galder’s special treatment ensued. Police commander Bruce Ciolli was suspended for 40 hours without pay, while Landrum was demoted to sergeant but didn’t return to work and later retired. Two jail sergeants, Don Vogel and Kris Keilich, were demoted to detention officers, and Sgt. David Simpson received a written reprimand. According to a December 12, 2016 news report, the Phoenix City Attorney’s Office is weighing whether a criminal investigation is warranted.

Van Galder’s wife is also under investigation, for visiting her husband at the jail while she was on duty and supposed to be attending an autopsy.

The special treatment that Van Galder received, and the misconduct by police and jail officials who provided or turned a blind eye to that treatment, likely would not have come to light were it not for the investigative efforts of NBC 12 News.


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