Florida cop shows up drunk to anti-drunk-driving event

An officer in Florida turned up drunk to a ceremony last month where he was receiving an award for making over 100 DUI collars. Pinellas County deputy Michael Szeliga packed a bottle of Jamison Whiskey for a weekend-long statewide drunk-driving training program sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Szeliga got the party started early, skipping out on the first day of training with two fellow officers, WFLA reported. By the time other officers were back at the training after the morning break, Szeliga was pouring drinks by the pool. Since he and the two officers were technically on duty at the time, both Florida taxpayers and the non-profit were paying for their poolside party.

Szeliga later arrived to an award ceremony visibly intoxicated. He was supposed to get his award in front of 200 attendees. Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent spotted Szeliga beforehand and tried to keep him from further embarrassment. For his trouble, Szeliga unleashed a barrage of verbal abuse on the police chief. After Vincent found Szeliga's superiors and told them their officer was "wasted," they sent the inebriated officer back to his room. He spent the next day dutifully attending training.

When the story first broke last month, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Szeliga was a good cop, but his behavior was inexcusable. "It was wrong, and again, one of the most ridiculous things I've heard of," Gualtieri told WFLA. "When I first heard about it, that was (what) my reaction was. 'Come on, you've got to be kidding me. Really?'"

Szelia is now a detective investigating crimes against children. He received one day paid suspension for violating the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Standard of Conduct, and had to write a letter of apology to Vincent. Szelia could not be reached for comment.

Share This Photo X