Deputy's Blood Level .21 Alcohol

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Department of Public Safety officials confirmed Wednesday that the blood-alcohol content of Gila County Sheriff's Deputy Rodney Cronk was more than twice the legal limit when he crashed his motorcycle Halloween night.

Cronk, a two-year employee of the department, has been placed on administrative leave with pay since the beginning of the year.

As of this week, the county attorney's office had not yet filed charges against the deputy in the Oct. 31 accident.

According to the investigating DPS officer, Cronk, who was not on duty that night, was driving his motorcycle east on Highway 260 just past Star Valley.

"He ran off the roadway, and upon returning to the roadway going from dirt to asphalt surface, lost control of his vehicle," said DPS Officer Greg LaMoine.

Cronk suffered only minor injuries in the accident and was treated and released from Payson Regional Medical Center.

Believing that alcohol may have been a factor in the accident, LaMoine obtained consent for a blood sample from the deputy.

DPS officials Wednesday released the results of Cronk's blood-alcohol content analysis: 0.210 -- more than twice the legal limit for intoxication. The Roundup obtained the results after filing a formal Freedom of Information Act request with DPS.

County Attorney Jerry DeRose said Cronk's criminal case would most likely be handled by the county attorney's office in Payson. However, as of press time Friday, no information was available on the status of the case from the Payson office.

"He's going to be prosecuted," DeRose said. "There won't be any cover-up -- let's just say that right now. It will be treated just like any other case."

While the county attorney's office determines what legal course to take against the deputy, sheriff's department officials are determining what personnel action to take.

Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Byron Mills said the department's policy states that if any employee violates the law, whether state or federal, the matter will be turned over to internal investigation.

Det. Sgt. Tom Rasmussen of the Sheriff's Department's Internal Affairs office confirmed that he is looking into the matter, and doesn't expect the investigation to take long.

"We're not talking about weeks here," he said. "It's not that complicated of an issue."

Mills will review Rasmussen's findings.
"From internal investigation, then it goes to my desk," Mills said. "At that time, we look at the facts of the case as outlined in that report to see if a violation of our policies could be substantiated. If I feel there was enough evidence, then I make notification to the employee of the charges we're bringing against him, and what my recommendation is to the sheriff."

The employee then has 10 days to appeal the charge to the sheriff. If no appeal is made, Mills' recommendation stands. If there is an appeal, a "mini-trial" is held with the sheriff presiding.

"What (Cronk) is looking at as punishment from us, once I get everything here ... we could terminate him," Mills said. "One of the things we do is look at the individual, we look through the personnel file and see what kind of history he has with the department as an employee.

"If this guy has been a shining star, and this was his first time with any problem at all, we take that into consideration."

Mills said Cronk started out as a detention officer in the jail about two years ago. He then enrolled and graduated from the police academy, and was promoted to deputy.

"He's been a deputy for little over a year," Mills said.

He said in his 21 years with the department, this is the first time a deputy has been charged with drunken driving.

"We've had some deputies with drinking problems," he said, "but we've never had one involved and arrested for DUI."

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