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Ventura County

Ventura Officer Was Not Booked

Authorities say the son of Sheriff Bob Brooks was not fingerprinted after his DUI arrest. Attorneys fault officials' handling of the case.

January 18, 2003|Holly J. Wolcott | Times Staff Writer

Ventura Police Officer Jeff Ryan Brooks, son of county Sheriff Bob Brooks, was never fingerprinted or booked into jail after his arrest this week on suspicion of drunk driving, authorities confirmed Friday.

Instead, the 27-year-old Camarillo resident was cited and released to the custody of his girlfriend. Local defense attorneys said it was a highly unusual move for a suspected drunk driver.

"I have a lot of clients that sure wish they were treated the same way," said Ventura attorney David Follin, who has worked on drunk-driving cases in the county for 20 years. "Somebody in law enforcement is no different than anyone else and should not be treated differently."

The exception to being booked into jail, the attorneys said, is a suspect who is injured and needs medical care or hospitalization.

Brooks was taken into custody shortly after 11 p.m. Monday after allegedly passing out behind the wheel of his sport utility vehicle in a turn lane in Camarillo, authorities said.

A passerby called authorities after seeing Brooks unresponsive inside his vehicle. Brooks was in a left-hand turn lane on Adolfo Road and positioned to turn onto Flynn Road, sheriff's spokesman Eric Nishimoto said.

Brooks was taken to the Sheriff's Station on Las Posas Road in Camarillo, where he submitted to a breath test to determine the alcohol level in his system. Nishimoto said the test results are not public information and will be released only to Brooks, his attorney and prosecutors.

Nishimoto said authorities chose to release Brooks, a two-year officer with the Ventura Police Department, because he is known by authorities, can be easily located and was not considered a flight risk.

"It was not preferential treatment," Nishimoto said. "Practically speaking, it makes no sense that certain types of people -- such as police officers or county officials -- would need to be booked because that whole process is generally about establishing prints and finding out about a person's residence."

Because he was not fingerprinted and booked at the main County Jail in Ventura, defense attorneys said a record of his arrest would not exist in state and federal databases, which could assist Brooks if he looks for police work in another area.

Law enforcement officials initially told a local newspaper they were concerned about Brooks' safety if he were placed in the main jail population, where there could be prisoners he may have arrested.

Defense attorneys shunned that notion, saying Brooks easily could have been housed in segregation, away from the main population. Also, Follin said authorities opened themselves to liability by allowing Brooks to leave with his girlfriend when he may have still been drunk.

Meanwhile, Brooks remains on patrol duty pending an internal investigation by police officials, Assistant Chief Gary McCaskill said.

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