A Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Deputy was arrested by Morgan Hill Police July 4 for driving under the influence. Tyeler Fleckner, 27, who joined the force in November 2006, was not placed on administrative leave as a result, according to Sgt. Jose Cardoza, sheriff’s spokesman.
The arrest occurred at 10:12 p.m. July 4 on Monterey Road and Fourth Streets. Fleckner was charged with DUI by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office, and is scheduled for an Aug. 31 court date at South County Courthouse, according to South County supervising deputy D.A. Steve Lowney.
Fleckner notified the sheriff’s office of his arrest. “So procedurally, he did the right thing of notifying us,” Cardoza said.
“When a deputy is arrested for any type of crime, two investigations occur. The criminal investigation by the arresting agency and the administrative investigation done by an internal affairs investigator,” Cardoza said.
He said each internal investigation is a case-by-case basis, giving an example of the difference between crimes such as a DUI and a DUI that results in an injury of someone.
“It’s literally case-by-case basis,” Cardoza said. He could not comment further on whether or not Fleckner saw consequences for his actions, since it’s a personnel issue, he said.
Fleckner was pulled over in a traffic stop by Morgan Hill officer Steve Pennington when Fleckner was driving a pickup truck south on Monterey Road with a female passenger, according to a police report of the arrest. Pennington noticed that Fleckner’s vehicle did not have a license plate affixed to the front bumper.
Pennington contacted Fleckner to pull over with his emergency patrol lights, and when he approached the driver’s side of the vehicle after the pickup stopped, he noticed that Fleckner’s “speech was slightly slurred and his eyes were red and watery,” the arrest report said. Fleckner immediately told Pennington that he was an off-duty sheriff’s deputy.
When asked if he had been drinking alcohol, Fleckner told the officer that he drank two beers about 3 p.m., and he could not feel any effects of the alcohol.
The officer then required Fleckner to exit the vehicle and perform field sobriety tests, including a one-foot balance test, the police report said.
Pennington asked Fleckner if he would take a breath test to determine his blood-alcohol content. Fleckner did not consent to the optional test, and was detained and transported to the police station for a blood sample. Found in the passenger’s floorboard area of Fleckner’s pickup was an empty bottle of Pacifico beer, which his passenger said she drank.
In an undated press release on the website clubrunner.ca, the Rotary Club of Cupertino reported that the city’s police Capt. Terry Calderone named Fleckner the sheriff’s office’s “public safety officer of the year.” The press release said Fleckner logged 57 felony arrests, 131 moving violations, and 86 nonmoving violations for the unspecified year which took place after Fleckner served “only two or three years on the job,” the website said.
Fleckner’s name was initially redacted from a Morgan Hill police public arrest record out of “an abundance of caution” because staff did not know if he had been charged by the district attorney’s office yet, according to Chief David Swing. Staff also did not know if Fleckner’s arrest - without charges filed - would be considered unreleasable under state laws that prohibit cities from publicizing certain information about law enforcement officers.
The district attorney’s office has not yet returned a phone call and email requesting the status of Fleckner’s case.
The police department’s support services manager Patti Yinger initially redacted Fleckner’s name, and Sgt. Troy Hoefling released his name after the Times asked why his name was blacked out of the records. Usually, only the names of juveniles are redacted from such reports, but their ages remain public.
Swing added that it is not normal for the department to wait for prosecutors to file before publicizing the names of suspects that Morgan Hill officers have arrested, but records staff were wary of releasing information about a law enforcement officer that might not be public information.
An arrest on suspicion of DUI such as Fleckner’s does not fall into the category of protected police personnel information.
“As much as law enforcement professionals are held to a higher standard, the impact is greater personally and professionally when we make mistakes,” Swing said, adding that the department was not trying to “cover up” Fleckner’s arrest.