This weekend, the Washington State Police were called upon to pull over a suspected drunk driver. But this particular incident had a surprising - and disturbing - ending.
On Sunday near Tacoma, witnesses reported that a vehicle had sideswiped a car that was stopped in traffic. The offending vehicle then drove into the median and tried to flee the scene. State troopers arrived and turned on their lights and sirens, but the driver did not stop immediately. Instead, it was some time before the car finally pulled to the side of the road. When the troopers walked up to the driver's side window, they were startled to discover who was behind the wheel.
One of their own.
James Bertholf is a 20-year veteran of the state police and has even received accolades in the past for his efforts to prevent drunk driving in Kitsap and Pierce counties. He was arrested on charges of DUI, eluding police, and causing a hit-and-run accident - after waiting in his car for ten minutes after he had been pulled over. Bertholf is currently being held on $35,000 bail. But officials with the WSP say that Bertholf's career with the force has likely come to an end.
It's easy to have mixed feelings about this incident. After all, the state police did arrest a fellow trooper and made sure to treat him just like they would any other alleged drunk driver. On the other hand, it's always troubling to see a longtime law enforcement officer commit such an egregious crime - especially since he has spent much of his career trying to catch people who engaged in what he is now accused of doing.