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Failure to calibrate breathalyzer causes "black eye" for police - KOAM TV 7

Failure to calibrate breathalyzer causes "black eye" for Galena Police Department

Updated: Jan 13, 2010

By JORDAN AUBEY

GALENA, KAN. - A prosecutor chooses not to charge the former Pittsburg State head football coach for driving while under the influence because of something the police did wrong - the improper use of a breathalyzer.

The letter of the law follows a series of documents and procedures which police must follow flawlessly. Even though police have their accusations, they are expected to put forth evidence that must meet a standard.

In November, Pittsburg State University's then head football coach Chuck Broyles was arrested for allegedly driving while drunk.  Now, the prosecutor says he will not file charges against Broyles.

"Within out agency it's kind of a little black eye for us," says Galena Police Chief Larry Delmont.

A black eye for the lack of a DUI.

"You know what you're doing, see you're trained for this," Chief Delmont says.

"We used to have the (Intoxilyzer) 5000, we have the 8000, which is a newer instrument, which is a good instrument, but you still have to do your proper procedures," Delmont explains.

One important procedure is calibration.

The state of Kansas sends contained air samples to the Galena Police Department.  Within these samples are simulated alcohol contents that are unknown to police.

Once the samples are tested in the machine they are sent back to the state to make sure the breathalyzer is working properly.

This procedure is required weekly for the breathalyzer to be considered calibrated.

But during the week Chuck Broyles was arrested police admit the test was not done.

Chief Delmont explains why.

"The officer that initiated the traffic stop is still here - he did everything just right - though my custodian over the intoxilyzer is no longer with us due to other incidents - something else happened."

Delmont clarified that the incident with Broyles did not have anything to do with the custodian of the intoxilyzer being released.

Police say Broyles did fail a field sobriety test and a different electronic breath test.

But any DUI charge was still blown away.

"It was because of technicalities this was thrown out," Delmont says.  "Being what it is, that's the way it is."

Though Chief Delmont can not reverse this mistake he says he will "tighten his belt" from now on making sure no minute detail before, during, and after a crime goes overlooked.

"We deal with different types of crimes and it's very important, be it a homicide, or be it a burglary, we want to make sure we get the proper, if we catch the bad guy on the burglary, we want to make sure we do the right thing and the get the proper evidence."

Chief Delmont believes his department's failure to calibrate the breathalyzer did not and will not dismiss evidence.

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