A veteran city police officer has been suspended without pay after tests indicated he had alcohol in his system while he was on duty, city officials say.
Michael Beliczky, 42, an Eden police officer for 12 years, was suspended by City Manager Steve Routh while the city investigates the incident.Routh said Beliczky submitted to an alcohol test and registered a 0.04. In North Carolina, a person who registers a 0.10 is legally drunk.
City officials were alerted Thursday by an anonymous telephone caller that Beliczky was impaired, Routh said. The call was made to an Eden City Council member, who then telephoned Routh and Police Chief Gary Benthin.
Routh declined to identify the council member.
Benthin said that at no time did the officer appear drunk to anyone at the police station earlier that evening, nor when Benthin sent him home at 11 p.m. City officials declined to say where the officer, a city patrolman, was at the time he was reportedly impaired.
Contacted at home Tuesday, Beliczky said he hadn't been drinking during the day before reporting to his 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift or while at work.
Beliczky said he didn't know why he had a positive reading on the test, except to say the test is not consistently accurate.
He was not administered a Breathalyzer test, the usual method of measuring intoxication. Routh said a power outage at the police station prevented officials from administering the Breathalyzer.
Beliczky registered a 0.04 on a test administered by a hand-held device, called an Alco-sensor, which is used by state troopers while they are on the road, Routh said.
A Highway Patrol spokesman in High Point said officers use the Alco-sensor only to determine probability of drinking. If warranted, they take the person into a station for a Breathalyzer test.
The spokesman said Alco-sensor readings are not legal in court except to show probability of drinking.
``The test I took wasn't a Breathalyzer,' Beliczky said. ``The test I took is by no means accurate. It gives the Highway Patrol and police departments an idea' whether someone has been drinking.
Asked why someone would make an anonymous call to allege he had been drinking, Beliczky said, ``I'm a police officer, and you're subject to making a lot of people mad.'
Benthin said charges weren't pending against the officer.
``There is no probable cause for any criminal action whatsoever,' Benthin said.
Beliczky also said he had no hard feelings toward the city for being suspended.