Officer Kenneth Aragon of the LAPD died early Thursday morning, December 3, 2009. The 19 year LAPD veteran, father of five, crashed his motorcycle at 2:15 A.M. He was highly intoxicated in the single vehicle accident.
The surprise is that the tragedy did not occur earlier to the LAPD. Officer Aragon was leaving a “Payday Wednesday” party, an unofficial tradition, at the Department’s Elysian Fields Training Academy campus. The campus has a bar on site. He spent hours drinking and singing karaoke at the bar before leaving at 12:30 AM.
The loss of any officer is a tragedy. The senseless killing of police officers, of which we have witnessed many this past year, is a direct attack on civilization.
Police Departments should not facilitate the death of their own. The operation of the bar on the campus was a festering time bomb.
Police officers work hard, often under great stress. Many also play hard. Some drink hard. Alcoholism can be a major problem for some officers.
Some drink and drive.
Some drink on the job.
If they are going to get drunk, let them do it off site on their own dime and own location. Every major police department has its favorite watering hole. It should not be at the Academy.
A police department that has a bar on the grounds of the police academy sends a message to the recruits: Drinking is encouraged on this force because alcohol is part of the program.
Rumors are that in the past offices and guests on Payday Wednesday had wild sex orgies in the garden of the Academy, thereby combining Baucus and satyrs on the training grounds during the time of Dragnet.
Rumors are that too many intoxicated officers failed to navigate the downhill drive from the Academy, such that a guardrail was placed on the side of the sharp curve.
Rumors are that guests at the parties received “Get out of jail” cards. If pulled over by an officer for DWI, the guest was to hand the officer a business card of a LAPD Police Captain with directions for the officer to call the captain.
Technically the bar was operated by a non-profit foundation, The Los Angeles Revolver and Athletic Club, which opened the bar for retirement parties, catering events, and Payday Wednesdays. The technicality of the independent management contract is irrelevant; the bar was in the Academy.
It’s possible that Officer Aragon stopped for a few additional drinks at another bar after leaving the Academy, but that’s also irrelevant. The drinking began at the Academy with a history of drunken officers driving off in the past.
Sooner or later an inebriated officer leaving the grounds was going to cause a fatal accident.
The off duty Officer Aragon did not die on the way home. Instead, he was driving to work at the Northeastern Division of the LAPD. Had he made it, he would have reported drunk to work. Instead, he was dead drunk.