COLUMBIA, SC – On Friday morning, a 55-year-old Columbia police officer named Harold Julius Caldwell struck a sign and a fence made of wood and brick with his patrol car. He was on-duty and was driving while intoxicated when his car crashed.
Caldwell was suspended without pay on Friday and charged with DUI. Police Department said he is expected to be fired next week.
According to the Columbia Police Department report, the accident happened while Caldwell was responding to a call. It was an emergency call because family members were fighting at an apartment complex. When he received the call, it was about 9 a.m. He was turning into the Hampton Hill condominiums, his car struck the sign and after hitting the fence, his car turned into the parking lot and stopped.
He was not injured in the accident but he was immediately taken to the hospital. At the hospital, Caldwell’s alcohol and drug tests were performed by a private company. A private company performs the tests of any city employee involved in a car accident while on-duty. The tests proved that he had taken alcohol before driving and his blood-alcohol level was more than the legal limit.
Police Chief Randy Scott told that the city employees are required to take alcohol and drug tests when they are involved in a road accident or when a city employee causes an accident.
CPD told that another Police Officer from Columbia Police Department was given the case of the family fight. In that fight at Hampton Hill condominiums, no other family member was injured and no arrests were made.
In a statement, Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott said, “When a law enforcement officer breaks the law, it is extremely disappointing. We are held to a much higher standard in the eyes of our community. I expect more from City of Columbia officers every day. Bad behavior combined with irresponsible decision making will not be tolerated at CPD. If you break the law, you have to suffer the consequences. We talk to the public about the dangers of drinking and driving. If we as police officers cannot set the positive example for others to follow, then we have failed completely.”
Harold Julius Caldwell was booked in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. He remained in the Richland County jail Friday evening. It was not clear if Caldwell had a lawyer.