JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A police officer with a history of drinking and driving was arrested Tuesday night after the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says she hit four cars in East Arlington and kept driving.
Police say officers found Diana Jones sitting in her personal car eating a hamburger in the parking lot of a bank in the 13000 block of Atlantic Boulevard just after 8:30 p.m. According to the report, Jones refused to take a breath test and used profane language with officers who were investigating the string of hit-and-run crashes at parking lots along Atlantic Boulevard.
Jones was arrested for DUI causing property damage.
"Police are human, they make mistakes sometimes, but at the same token they are held a higher standard. You never ever want to hear about a police officer being arrested and when it happens like this it conveys a message to the public," said Channel 4's Crime Analyst and Safety Expert, Ken Jefferson.
At her appearance before a judge Wednesday afternoon, her lawyer arranged for her to be placed in a pretrial services program.
The judge ordered her not to drive or drink any alcohol, and she must wear a GPS ankle monitor.
"I think they tried to salvage this individual by allowing her to get treatment. She may have been going through something at that particular time that was a factor in why she got behind the wheel drinking or using drugs or both.," said Jefferson.
Police said Jones first hit an unoccupied car in the CVS parking lot at Atlantic and Hodges, didn't leave a note and pulled back onto Atlantic, where she rear-ended a vehicle. Again, she didn't stop, but went into the parking lot of the Bank of America where she hit a parked car.
The fourth collision was with another occupied vehicle in the Wells Fargo parking lot, where police eventually found her.
"All of a sudden she bumps me," said one of the victims hit by Jones' car. "She didn't lift her head once, I kept laying on the horn, and she backed up and pulled forward and hit me again."
This victim, who didn't want her name used, said her 5-month-ld son was in the car when Jones' car came at her head-on.
"I think she was, honestly, intoxicated or under the influence of something, and she didn't know she was hitting those cars," the woman told Channel 4's Tarik Minor. "When she looked up at me, she looked like I was doing something wrong."
In 2011, Jones was videotaped by a citizen driving recklessly in a police cruiser. Officers investigating that incident found her at home. While her blood alcohol was over the legal limit, but she claimed she started drinking when she got home.
After an administrative review, Jones was fired, but appealed the decision under civil service rules and got her job back.
"In the last instance, she was terminated and she was brought back through that process," said Undersheriff Dwain Senterfitt. "It wasn't the strongest of cases. Though she blew over the limit that day, she had some time in the house after she'd been driving her car. "
For the past two years, Jones has been assigned to the telecommunications department so she would not drive a police car again.
After Tuesday night's arrest, Jones was stripped of her police powers and assigned to a desk job, again. Under civil service rules, she cannot be fired until an internal investigation is conducted and she is given an administrative hearing.
"It appears this person was given chance after chance. It does not send a positive message to the public when this happens," said Jefferson.
"If the charges are proven that this did happen, I'm going to terminate her again," Senterfitt said.
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