||Three arrests made in one day by off duty ISP trooper
Wanda English Burnett
Just because a police officer is officially off duty and in plain clothes doesn’t mean he can’t arrest citizens for breaking the law.
That was proved last week when Trooper Randel Miller was at a CVS Store in Madison when he noticed a man in a 1998 Ford Escort smoking a cigarette. He watched the man, who then threw the cigarette butt out the window. Miller got on the PA in his police vehicle and told the man to pick up the cigarette butt. However, the man ignored his request and drove away.
Trooper Miller followed the vehicle and then initiated a traffic stop. The driver was identified as John Taulbee, 35, of Madison, who had a suspended driver’s license. A passenger in the vehicle, Byron N. Parker, 46, of Madison, was found to be in possession of marijuana.
Taulbee was cited for the Driving While Suspended violation and Parker was arrested for Possession of Marijuana-Under 30 grams, which is a Class A Misdemeanor. He was taken to the Jefferson County Jail by Officer Jeremy Cox from the Madison Police Department.
Trooper Miller continued to have a busy day on his day off when later that same day he noticed a vehicle driving through the alley by the Dupont Baptist Church. Neither the driver, nor the occupant were wearing seatbelts.
The officer initiated a traffic stop and when he did he noticed a strong odor of burnt marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. This led to the vehicle being searched where he found marijuana and paraphernalia. Larry Dale Covington, 36, of North Vernon, along with Erin Jane Boldery, 25, also of North Vernon, were taken into custody and charged with Possession of Marijuana-Under 30 grams and Possession of Paraphernalia, both are Class A Misdemeanors. The couple had their one-year-old child in the vehicle at the time. The child was released to an aunt. Both Boldery and Covington could face additional charges of Neglect of a Dependent.
Trooper Miller was assisted at the scene by Corporal David Owsley of the Indiana State Police and Deputy Shane Gibson of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.
Although Trooper Miller was off duty and wearing plain clothes he was operating a marked state police vehicle and his actions were appropriate and in accordance with Indiana law, 9-30-2-2.
An officer in an unmarked vehicle must be wearing a distinctive uniform and badge of authority or have another uniformed officer present in order to make a traffic stop and issue a traffic citation. This law does not prohibit an officer in a fully marked police vehicle from making a traffic stop while in civilian attire.