In Wake Of Officer's Arrest, Hatboro Police Revise Policy

Posted: February 19, 1989

The Hatboro Police Department has created a new policy to control its officers' actions when borough employees are arrested or involved in traffic accidents.

The policy has been instituted after a police and Borough Council investigation into the way an accident involving an off-duty Hatboro police officer was handled in January.

Officer Robert A. Ottey Jr., 39, was charged with drunken driving more than two weeks after his car hit two parked cars on Jan 8. Police did not require him to take a test to measure the amount of alcohol in his blood, but a test taken later that night at Warminster General Hospital showed him to have a blood-alcohol content nearly three times the amount allowed by law.

An internal police investigation determined that the officers at the accident said they had no suspicions that Ottey was drunk, said Lt. Frank Campbell, acting police chief.

Under the new rules, if an officer were to come across a similar accident, he or she would have to notify a superior of the circumstances. The superior officer would take charge of the investigation.

Campbell would not disclose anything about the policy, but a borough official disclosed the contents to Neighbors.

"It is the supervisor's duty to ensure the investigation is completed in a professional manner with fairness, impartiality and without special consideration to the person involved," states the policy, which was developed by Campbell.

If a person arrested is an employee of Hatboro or an elected official, the chief of police should be notified "at the earliest possible convenience," it states.

Borough Council President Thomas McMackin, who described the policy only in general terms, called it "a very thorough procedure." McMackin had called for the initial probe into the officers' handling of the case after rumors circulated in the borough that Ottey had been drinking.

Bucky Clark, a borough council member and chairman of the public safety committee, said "there had to be a flaw" in the investigating officers' actions that night. "I feel there were some holes," he said. "I think the policy hopes to rectify this."

Clark also said that there was an altercation at the Klinger's Skyway Tavern, where Ottey had been served before the accident. Moments before the officers drove to Home Road, where Ottey's pickup truck crashed and rolled over at 9:37 p.m., a man entered the police station and told of being in a fight with the officer.

No charges were filed as a result of any altercation.

Ottey, who has waived a preliminary hearing, has been suspended from the Hatboro Police Department until his case is heard in court. He is an 18-year veteran of the force.

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