A Pinella's County, Fla., sheriff's deputy caused a whole heap of embarrassment after being found intoxicated while attending a Mothers Against Drunk Driving conference in Fort Lauderdale in July, WFLA reports.
Officer Michael Szeliga reportedly packed a bottle of Jameson Irish whiskey in his patrol car before driving to the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Hotel, where he was supposed to be attending two days of DUI law-enforcement training, paid for by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Ironically, Szeliga was supposed to get an award from the organization for making more than 100 DUI arrests but was asked to forgo the banquet after showing up "wasted."
According to internal-affairs investigation reports obtained by the news station, one witness claimed that Szeliga arrived drunk at the Friday-night banquet, where he was supposed to be honored in front of 200 invited guests.
Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent ran into Szeliga outside the banquet and told the drunk officer that given his current state, it would not be appropiate to attend the event. Szeliga, in turn, was "disrespectful" toward the police chief, leading Vencent to look for one of Szeliga's supervisors and tell him that the officer was "wasted," the news station reports.
Szlegia's supervisor acknowledged that there was alcohol on Szeliga's breath, according to reports, and told him to go to his hotel room, effectively missing the banquet and his award.
WFLA notes, however, that that was not the beginning of Szeliga's misbehavior.
Earlier in the day, when he originally signed in, he had attended a morning session of the DUI training but then left with two other deputies after the first break, having decided that he didn't need the training because he was transferring out of the DUI unit into a detective position.
According to the report, Szeliga went back to his hotel room, mixed himself some Coke-and-whiskey drinks, and went down to the pool with the two other officers. The three officers were technically on duty when they skipped the training and headed to the pool. Some deputies swam. Szeliga said that he played the "cornhole" game with another deputy while drinking his cocktails. When Szeliga saw other deputies leaving the training at the end of the day, he went back to his room.
Things escalated as the evening approached and Szeliga and his roommate were dressing for the banquet. After a fire alarm sounded in their part of the hotel, a Pasco County sergeant reported seeing Szeliga in the hotel hallway in "nothing but boxer shorts." The sergeant confirmed that Szeliga was "pretty drunk" at the time, according to reports. Szeliga's eyes were glassy and his speech slurred.
Szeliga denied those claims, saying that he only stuck his head out of his hotel door because of the alarm and that he was not as drunk as people made him out to be, having consumed only the two or three drinks that he'd made for himself.
The following day, he did attend all of the training sessions before driving back home.
Szeliga was ultimately punished with one day of paid suspension for violating the department's "standard of conduct." He was also made to write a letter of apology to Gulfport Chief Vincent.
Szeliga is currently a detective in the sheriff's crimes-against-children unit, WFLA notes.
Read more at WFLA.