UPDATE: Hephzibah police officer charged with second DUI this year


Hephzibah Police Officer Michael Dodaro

Hephzibah Police Officer Michael Dodaro

UPDATE: News 12 at 6 o' clock/ October 21, 2013

HEPHZIBAH, Ga.--A Hephzibah police officer finds himself on the wrong side of the law for a second time. Michael Dodaro was arrested Sunday night in Oglethorpe County for DUI, his second DUI charge this year.

Now, taxpayers in Hephzibah, like Sharon Acosta, want to know why he was hired in the first place. She's wondering why Michael Dodaro got a job at the Hephzibah Police Department while he's facing trial for a DUI charge in Richmond County.

She says, "I don't think they should have hired him with a DUI already on the record. They should've make sure that he had help first."

Just 8 months ago, Dodaro was a narcotics officer with the Richmond County Sheriff's office. He was charged with DUI in Richmond County back in March after wrecking a county vehicle, blowing out two tires. He'd been with the department for more than a decade.

Dodaro was placed on suspension, and resigned April 1st. But, soon after, he got a job with the Hephzibah Police Department. That hiring decision doesn't sit well with a lot of people, though.

Acosta says, "I think he should have been cleared of the charges before he was hired."

Dodaro was on the way back from a K9 training in Athens Sunday night, when he was pulled over in a Hephzibah police car in Oglethorpe County and charged with another DUI. But, for taxpayers like Acosta, it smells fishy that he was hired with a DUI charge on his record in the first place.

She says, "It does make me skeptical of their hiring process."

Dodaro has been placed on desk duty while the investigation continues, but some don't think that he should continue to draw a paycheck after a second charge.

Acosta says, "Police officers should be held at a higher standard."

When we asked the Chief of Police in Hephzibah why he gave Dodaro a job, he said he had a great work history, and he's one of the best at what he does. He also says he heard from several references who highly recommended Dodaro, and in his words, 'I just took a chance on him.'

HEPHZIBAH, Ga.-- Michael Dodaro, an officer with the Hephzibah Police Department, was arrested around 8:00 Sunday night in Oglethorpe County on the suspicion of DUI.

The Oglethorpe County Sheriff's Office says an officer was dispatched to a call on Hwy 78 in Lexington, GA Wilkes County officers had attempted to make contact with the vehicle, but were unable to do so before it crossed into Oglethorpe County.

Dodaro was driving a white Crown Victoria marked as a police car out of Hephzibah. Officers report that he was driving at a high rate of speed, passing on double yellow lines, and spot lighting.

An additional caller reported a vehicle matching the same description nearly wrecking on a bridge and weaving all over the road.

The Oglethorpe County stopped Dodaro on Hwy. 78 traveling westbound. A radar clocked him at 62 mph in a 55 mph zone. A report says the officer did not stop him at that time, but began to follow him. He observed the vehicle crossing the white line.

The report says he activated his blue lights, but the car did not immediately stop. After a short distance, the driver finally pulled over to a stop. The officer requested assistance from the Georgia State Patrol.

The scene was then turned over to Georgia State Patrol. The driver, Michael Angelo Dodaro, Jr. was placed under arrest by the trooper for Driving Under the Influence and taken to the Oglethorpe County Jail. He as later released on bond.

A press release from the Oglethorpe County Sheriff's Office says he Hephzibah patrol car and equipment were given to an authorized representative from their agency.

Sources tell us Dodaro was in Athens for K9 training.

This is not the first DUI charge for the officer. On March 29, 2013 while he was employed as a Richmond County narcotics officer, he crashed a Dodge Charger that belonged to the county. The only damage to the car was two flat tires.

Dodaro worked with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office for more than 10 years before resigning in April of 2013 after being charged with DUI in a county vehicle.

Records show that the Richmond County DUI charge is still pending. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in May, and records show Dodaro has requested a trial by jury.

No trial date has been set for the case.

Stay tuned to News 12 as we bring you the latest in the investigation.


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