Deputy too drunk to receive Mothers Against Drunk Driving award

It costs more to train and equip new police officers than it does to pay them. 

That’s why veteran police officers are a valuable commodity.

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But in Florida, a 4-year deputy being honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for making more than 100 DUI arrests was too intoxicated to pick up his award.

Pinellas County deputy Michael Szeliga arrived at a statewide police training event "ready to party," according to WFLA.

Szeliga, who allegedly packed a bottle of liquor for the 2-day training event in Fort Lauderdale, was described as “staggeringly drunk” by a witness at the Friday night banquet where he was slated to receive the MADD award.

A 274-page report on the deputy’s behavior indicates he and two other officers went to the hotel pool, where they drank alcohol instead of attending DUI training. Szeliga drank and played cornhole until he saw his fellow deputies leaving training. Then he returned to his room to get ready for the awards ceremony.

According to the report, he was so intoxicated the police chief from Gulfport, Florida, suggested Szeliga not go to the event. The deputy then made “disrespectful comments” toward the police chief, who reported the behavior to Szeliga’s boss.

Another officer reported seeing the deputy wearing “nothing but boxer shorts” in the hallway of the hotel, according to WFLA.

Szeliga said the training was not necessary because he was being transferred out of the DUI unit. He now works as a detective in the sheriff’s crimes against children unit.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri credited Szeliga with being a good deputy but also expressed his disapproval of the MADD affair. “It was wrong, and again, one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard of,” Gualtieri said.

The deputy was suspended for one day and wrote an apology to the Gulfport police chief.