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Police officer surrenders to face drinking and driving charge

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A member of the New York State Park Police surrendered Sunday evening to Watertown police to be charged with driving while ability impaired by the use of alcohol.

William L. Jorgensen, 40, Alexandria Bay, is charged in an incident that occurred early the morning of Jan. 27 in the 500 block of Stone Street, police said. He was released to await arraignment in City Court at a later date.

A police spokesman said Mr. Jorgensen’s vehicle was halted on Stone Street for investigation into an allegation that was made earlier in the night at another location. Insufficient evidence was found to substantiate the earlier claim, police said.

In the meantime, the officer who made the traffic stop alleged that Mr. Jorgensen appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. No breath test was administered, however, because there was an urgency to return Mr. Jorgensen to the scene of the initial complaint, said Lt. Frank J. Derrigo.

The initial complaint was “serious,” he said. The investigation “took a long time,” and that is why it took a month for the impaired-driving count to be lodged, he said.

He declined to discuss the nature of the initial complaint, since nothing was substantiated. The person who made the complaint is not facing a charge of falsely reporting an incident, Lt. Derrigo said.

By the time the initial stages of the original investigation had been completed, the amount of time that had elapsed between the two unrelated investigations eliminated the value of administering a breath test, he said.

“Yes,” the lieutenant continued, “the fact that he was drinking and driving was obvious.” He added that the members of that night’s patrol shift “believe they can prove he was impaired.”

Lt. Derrigo said that night’s handling of the case was not an attempt by a cop to cover for another cop.

“If that were the case, why would we arrest him at all?” he said.

Mr. Jorgensen’s command officer with the state park police, Maj. Rudy Schneider, said Tuesday that Mr. Jorgensen is employed full time at the rank of patrolman, and his patrol area is at any of the state parks in Jefferson County. He has the same authority as state troopers and sheriff’s deputies to make arrests beyond the borders of state parks.

Maj. Schneider said state park police are aware of the arrest, and “our people will be looking at it.”

He referred additional questions to headquarters in Albany, where no immediate reply was available.

Impaired driving is an infraction, not as serious as a driving while intoxicated charge.

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