Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran says his office will be taking disciplinary action against a patrol supervisor caught with an open beer bottle in his police cruiser over the weekend.
On March 18, a resident filmed a Mobile County Sheriff’s Office vehicle in the parking lot of a Lowe’s in the Tillman’s Corner area that had what appeared to be an open bottle of beer sitting in the center console.
After the video was sent to a local news station, MCSO launched an investigation into the incident and eventually identified Sgt. Joe Mahoney as the operator of the vehicle that day.
According to Cochran, Mahoney admitted to traveling with the beer to Lowe’s on Sunday afternoon to get a part needed for work at he was performing on his house at the time.
Mahoney is a 15-year veteran who has served in the intelligence unit and in the field as a patrol supervisor in South Mobile County. He’s also acted as a spokesman for MCSO on many occasions, where he has been the face of the agency during active investigations.
Cochran said Mahoney has been a “solid performer” in his department for years and during that time has no history of any other conduct or procedure violations. He clarified that MCSO deputies are allowed to take vehicles home and drive them within the confines of Mobile County.
Mahoney now faces punitive actions Cochran said could include, among other things, “time off.” However, while he said Mahoney’s actions violated MCSO rules and regulations, Cochran said he’d “look at his whole work product” before making any final disciplinary decision.
“He’s been very honest and forthcoming to our investigators, and one thing we demand is honesty. We’re not questioning his honesty, we’re just questioning his judgment in this particular instance,” Cochran said. “This is a surprise to all of us, but it is what it is.”
Under Alabama law, any open container in the passenger area of a motor vehicle constitutes what’s commonly referred to as an “open container violation” — a Class C misdemeanor typically carrying a $25 fine.
Asked if Mahoney could be charged with an open container violation, Cochran said: “The penalty he’s going to pay will be much more severe than what a ticket would be.”
Whatever disciplinary action is taken against Mahoney, Cochran said it would likely occur within the next couple of days. However, as a merit system employee, Mahoney will have the option to appeal any punishment he receives to the Mobile County Personnel Board.