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Sheriff's Son Avoids Booking at Jail After His Arrest for Drunk Driving


The 24-year-old son of San Diego County Sheriff Jim Roache was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. But, instead of being detained at County Jail, Ron Roache was taken to San Diego police headquarters, where he was released to the custody of his father.

Lt. Michael Davis, who, without consulting Police Department superiors, made the decision not to place Roache in a holding tank, said he did so out of concern for the young man's safety.

"He was brought in and quick-released," said Davis, a 20-year veteran. "Because of who he was and the fact that, if his identity was known, his safety might be threatened, he was released at the station rather than at the jail."

Roache was stopped Friday evening by a patrol officer near Montgomery Field in the Kearny Mesa area. The officer, just arriving on duty for a late shift, followed Roache for two or three blocks. After Roache turned into a private parking lot, the officer pulled him over, Davis said. Details about why he was stopped were unavailable and police refused to reveal Roache's blood-alcohol level.

Roache had a friend in the car who was not drunk and who was permitted to drive the car home, Davis said.

Roache "was very passive and shamed and humble and cooperative at all times," Davis said. "The officer who arrested him said he showed a degree of humility. That was part of the reason he was taken to the station."

Most the department's drunken-driving arrests are booked through the jail, where offenders are placed in a cell with others who have been arrested that night. A few are booked at the station, where they are kept in the back seat of a patrol car until someone comes to get them.

"It's easier for the officer to take them to the holding tank because the sheriff's office takes over until they are picked up," Davis said.

However, he said, holding a drunken-driving suspect at the patrol station, where the accused is given a breath-alcohol test, is "a routine thing to do." It has been used for those who are elderly, of ill health, or who might be visiting from out of town and are fearful of jail, he said.

Davis said Roache was held for about three hours. Sgt. D. B. Shackley, watch commander at the County Jail, said drunk drivers usually are held about four hours, unless they are extremely intoxicated.

The Sheriff's Department released little information about the arrest Tuesday and neither Ron Roache nor his father returned calls for comment. Ron Roache is a graduate of UC Irvine, where he studied architecture. It could not be determined where he is employed.

After his arrest, Roache "was dealt with according to policy," said Dan Greenblat, the sheriff's special assistant. "This is a very personal family matter, which, of course, has saddened the Roache family. Beyond this, I believe further comment would be inappropriate."

Ron Roache was said to be so distraught over the matter that he still has not discussed it with his parents.

His mother, Jeanette Roache, was arrested for drunken driving in September, 1990, by San Diego police, two months before Jim Roache was elected sheriff. Jeanette Roache was held in the County Jail at Las Colinas for 3 1/2 hours until she was released on her own recognizance.

Eventually, she was given a suspended jail sentence, a $990 fine, and ordered to perform 60 hours of public service. Her blood-alcohol level was 0.20%, more than double the legal limit.

At the time of her arrest, Jeanette Roache and her husband made themselves available for interviews about the incident. In this case, Jim Roache has chosen not to discuss it.

Besides Ron, the Roaches have a daughter, Keri, 19.

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