Bellevue Police Officer Dion Robertson has been punished for driving a police bomb squad truck to a brew pub, drinking two beers, then driving the department vehicle to another officer’s home, where he drank more.
Robertson was seen drinking the beer at the Issaquah Brew House on November 10 where he was attending an appreciation dinner for the Bellevue SWAT team. He was reported by a police lieutenant who was also at the event.
Robertson was not on duty at the time (but was on call) and was not stopped for driving under the influence of alcohol. However, Robertson has been under the microscope since 2012 when he and another Bellevue police officer, Andy Hanke, were kicked out of a Seahawks game for their obnoxious, drunken behavior.
The pair had an altercation with a Seattle Police Officer outside of CenturyLink Field on September 16, 2012. According to Bellevue’s internal investigation, Robertson screamed at the officer and called her obscene names after she asked a woman in his group to pick up a cup she’d thrown on the ground. According to witnesses, Robertson was so aggressive towards the female officer that another officer called SPD for backup.
Robertson and Hanke were off duty when the 2012 incident occurred, but Police Chief Linda Pillo said their actions were embarrassing, reflected poorly on the department and violated policies on deportment, courtesy and ethics. Robertson was demoted from Corporal to Officer and removed from a leadership role in the bomb squad. Hanke was given a 30-day suspension and removed from the bomb squad altogether.
Hanke resigned from the police department last month, following an arrest in November for driving under the influence on I-90 near Issaquah.
The department's investigation concluded that Robertson violated policy by operating his assigned vehicle after consuming alcohol. Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo on Wednesday announced that Officer Robertson was removed from the bomb squad, resulting in a four percent pay reduction.
During the internal investigation, it was revealed that Robertson was on call for the bomb squad the night of November 10, when he drove to the Issaquah Brew Pub, drank two beers, then drove to another officer's home about ten miles away, where a group of officers had gathered to taste some home-brewed beer. Other officers who were at the Issaquah Brew House said that Robertson did not appear intoxicated. However, at least two officers at the event expressed surprise that Robertson was drinking at all.
Lt. John Manning, who first reported the possible policy violation to his commanders, said “it had a shock value” because he thought Robertson had stopped drinking following his “publicized alcohol issues,” most likely a reference to the Seahawks incident. Capt. John McCracken said he made a mental note of Robertson drinking because he thought he’d stopped altogether.
Robertson defended himself during the investigation, saying that he felt he was the victim of a “witch hunt.” Robertson said he only drinks “once in a blue moon at a special event,” and that he considered the Swat appreciation dinner a special event, so he drank two regular sized beers.
He said that he was at the event for two-and-a-half hours and did not consider it bad judgment to drive the bomb squad truck afterwards because “I wouldn’t be under the influence or buzzed.” After the group left the Brew House in Issaquah and drove to the officer’s house in a nearby town, Robertson claims he drank about half a beer before driving to his own home about 2 miles away.
Efforts to reach Robertson for comment have been unsuccessful.
Brad Miyake, Bellevue's acting city manager, issued a statement supporting Chief Pillo's decision in Officer Dion's case, adding: "This investigation did bring to light the need for the city to look very carefully and thoroughly at its policies – specifically when it comes to driving a city vehicle. It is poor judgment to drive any city vehicle after having a drink – even if you are below the legal limit. If our current policies do not clearly reflect that, then we plan to make the necessary changes."