HAMPTON — A former Hampton police officer who pleaded guilty to driving drunk to work has expressed concerns about the stress of law enforcement and the impact it has on officers’ health, according to his lawyer.
“It got the best of him and he used really poor judgment,” said Andrew Cotrupi, the Hampton defense attorney who represented veteran officer James Patton.
Cotrupi said Patton isn’t making excuses for his actions on July 30 when he arrived for his shift and coworkers suspected that he had been drinking.
Patton, 59, of Hampton, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated after New Hampshire State Police were called to investigate.
He was accused of being drunk when he drove on Brown Avenue, which is the road where the police station is located.
Patton, who was employed by the Hampton Police Department for 31 years, was immediately placed on administrative leave and resigned the next day.
He pleaded guilty on Oct. 24 and was given a $500 fine. He also lost his license for nine months, but can seek to get it back in 90 days.
According to Cotrupi, Patton is also no longer a certified police officer.
“He just wanted to accept responsibility. He’s hopeful that people understand the stress of being in law enforcement and the toll that it’s having on their physical and mental health,” he said. “It’s a high-stress job and the expectations are getting more and more and the resources are getting less.”
Cotrupi said Patton wasn’t interested in challenging the police in his DWI case and pleaded guilty because he was guilty.
Cotrupi added that the case “confirms New Hampshire law enforcement will police their own. In other states this type of arrest might not have happened.”