Fire board says it won’t discipline Curry

Assistant chief was arrested Saturday.
Thursday, November 2, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:16 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Assistant Fire Chief Sharon Curry is unlikely to face any professional repercussions for her drunk driving arrest over the weekend, the Boone County Fire Protection District’s three-person governing board said Wednesday.

The board met behind closed doors Wednesday morning to discuss what they said were personnel matters, including Curry’s arrest early Saturday at a sobriety checkpoint at Grindstone Plaza and Grindstone Parkway.

Curry, 45, of 504 Silverthorne Drive, was one of 18 people arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated during the four-hour operation by city and county law enforcement agencies.

John Gordon, chairman of the Fire Protection District’s governing board, said Curry’s arrest was “regretful but personal,” noting that Curry was not on duty and not driving a fire district vehicle at the time.

“The board does not foresee any further action to be taken relating to this incident pending our receipt of the official police report,” according to a statement released by the fire board.

Gordon said the fire district has no policy in place addressing a paid staff member’s off-duty criminal arrest. An outside consultant, Robert Scribner of the Columbia-based business consulting firm Executive Advantage, was brought in to revise the fire district’s personnel guidelines in September after six former employees and volunteers filed complaints against the fire district with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, many alleging sexual discrimination. That evaluation is ongoing.

“We did look at our personnel handbook for anything related to this type of incident for paid staff, but we couldn’t find anything,” Gordon said. “We are anticipating that it will be addressed in the revisions.”

Curry was arrested at about 2:40 a.m. Saturday after she was stopped at the checkpoint by a Columbia police officer. During the stop, Boone County Sheriff’s Department deputies smelled alcohol on Curry’s breath and saw that her eyes were bloodshot, according to an arrest report obtained by the Missourian.

Curry told the arresting officer she had consumed three or four “plastic cups” of wine in about a four-hour period Saturday night before she got behind the wheel. Curry lost her balance during two field sobriety tests and her blood alcohol content was registered at .098 percent, above the legal limit of .08 percent, according to the arrest report.

Curry was with a passenger — identified as Fire Chief Steve Paulsell by board member Shelly Dometrorch — at the time she was arrested.

Curry could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

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