Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 1:59 am | Fair 41º


Santa Barbara Police Department Defends DUI Officer Targeted in Newspaper Series

News-Press publishes one-person account by journalist Peter Lance of him being pulled over, then tested and arrested on suspicion of DUI

Beginning Wednesday, the first in a series of five articles was published by the Santa Barbara News-Press that attacked the credibility of officer Kasi Beutel, a decorated five-year veteran with the Santa Barbara Police Department. The articles were authored by Peter Lance, a noted journalist, apparently in response to and in retaliation for being arrested for DUI by Beutel.

The following are the facts of his DUI case, as submitted to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office:

On Jan. 1 at 1:06 a.m., officers Peterson and Clark were on patrol, en route to an assigned call. They were driving up Santa Barbara Street and stopped at a red light at Victoria Street. Stopped next to them was a black Range Rover being driven by 63-year-old Peter Lance. Stopped behind the Range Rover was another motorist. The light turned green, but the officers noticed that the Range Rover did not proceed forward.

After about five seconds, the officers turned on a light to illuminate the interior of the Range Rover. One officer described Lance as looking down at his lap; the other described him as head drooping, chin nearly on his chest. After more seconds passed, Lance slowly drove forward through the intersection.

The officers stopped Lance at 1400 Santa Barbara St. for Vehicle Code Sections 21451(a), which requires drivers to proceed when the light is green, and 22450, impeding traffic. Officer Peterson contacted Lance and noticed an odor of an alcoholic beverage. Lance said he drank three glasses of champagne. Peterson called officer Beutel to assist with a DUI investigation. At that time, Beutel specialized in DUI enforcement.

Beutel arrived and also noted an odor of an alcoholic beverage and signs of impairment. Beutel directed Lance through a series of field sobriety tests. These tests were witnessed by officers Peterson and Clark. At the conclusion of the tests, Beutel formed the opinion that Lance was in violation of 23152 of the Vehicle Code and arrested him for DUI.

Lance agreed to provide a breath test on a court-approved alcohol testing device called an EPAS. This EPAS is approved by the State of California and the courts. It is tested every week to ensure accuracy. The result was .09 blood-alcohol content. The legal limit is .08 BAC. Because a breath sample can’t be retested, Lance was offered an opportunity to have a blood or urine sample taken, which could be retested. Lance declined this second test and signed a waiver.

Lance did say he was an investigative reporter. He made comments about a “quota” and that Beutel could release him with a warning. Per department policy, Lance’s vehicle was towed. Lance was released to the Sobering Center. 

As with all DUI cases, a DUI arrest report was written and submitted to the district attorney for review. The DA filed the case, which is proceeding through Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

In her two-year tenure as the DUI enforcement specialist for the Santa Barbara Police Department, Beutel has conducted hundreds of DUI investigations. She has testified in court many dozens of times. All of her arrest cases have been reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office. Every arrested individual has been afforded a defense attorney. Every case has been heard in an open courtroom before a Superior Court judge. There are many built-in safeguards to ensure that her every arrest was fair, unbiased and met strict judicial review.

Police Chief Cam Sanchez and the entire Santa Barbara Police Department support officer Beutel. The number of DUI arrests Beutel has made is a testament to her dedication and commitment to keep the community safe. Lance, like any defendant in a criminal case, is innocent until proven guilty. He has the opportunity to defend himself and has the right to a fair trial.

Beutel has an unblemished career. Anyone, including Lance, has the right to file a personnel complaint against an officer. This leads to an internal investigation to determine the facts. Instead, Lance wrote and the News-Press prominently published a one-sided article that is neither fair nor unbiased. To publish an attack story against a police officer, written by the man she arrested, without any independent review is simply unprofessional. Conspicuously absent in the story are any opinions of Beutel formed by the professionals best able to judge her professionalism, character and motivations — namely, the District Attorney’s Office and Superior Court.

Chief Sanchez denounces this one-sided article series and the decision to publish it as seriously flawed and unprofessional.

[Noozhawk’s note: Click here for the first article by Peter Lance. Click here for the second.]

— Lt Paul McCaffrey is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara Police Department.

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