Former IMPD officer David Bisard has a problem: he drinks and drives. In 2010, while on duty, he plowed his police car into a group of motorcyclists waiting to make a left turn, killing one and injuring two more. His blood alcohol was twice the legal limit. Those are all facts, subsequently established in open court.
In the aftermath, misleading information was fed to the press, evidence (a blood sample) was mishandled in what appears to have been an attempt to make it useless, and IMPD leadership underwent significant changes. Meanwhile David Bisard, free and awaiting trial, wrecked his father-in-law's truck and was discovered to have been driving it while drunk.
He was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 16 years -- effectively eight, unless he misbehaved behind bars. Possibly a little light for a man who would not even admit to having been drunk when he killed someone, but pretty heavy time. Eight years of a dangerous serial drunk-driver off the streets.
Except he's out now, having served only three and a half years. The families of his victims are vexed.
I have known and worked with several drunks. High-functioning alcoholics, every one of them. They rarely change. None of the ones I knew did. One of them drank until his liver put him in the hospital. Told he could go on to live many more years -- as long as he never drank again -- he got into a treatment program and within a year, drank himself to death. Three more derailed their careers; one was caught nursing a nice can of some soft drink and vodka at work, sent for blood work and discovered to have a quite astounding blood alcohol level for someone who was upright and talking. Another worked support for a celebrity's public appearances one drink-friendly holiday, gratefully accepted all the lovely beer he was offered, and was pulled over by police early in the morning of the next day, speeding one of his employer's vehicles the wrong way down the freeway. The third apparently downed a bottle of some unscented liquor on his way to work -- perhaps just a bit more or more rapidly than was his usual -- then when trying to park, damaged his car and suffered slight injury. There was blood, so policy called for an ambulance. Downtown ambulances are generally preceded or shadowed by police. Good police officers are a bit suspicious by nature and the truth will out -- or at least it did then. None of those four were especially bad guys -- okay, one was a horse's ass sometimes, this is real life -- the point is they weren't foaming-at-the-mouth axe murderers but they were a danger, a largely hidden danger, to themselves and others. Each of them had opportunities for treatment; some of them may even have availed themselves of it. It didn't help. Someone who will drink heavily while working or driving is likely to keep on so doing. Most of them manage to only cause minor harm while they do.
David Bisard, more dangerous than any of those examples, has been released with a few years on probation and it seems premature. It is probably only a matter of time before he's back in jail and if the rest of us are very, very lucky, he won't have killed anyone with a vehicle first.
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