01/05/2001

Badly injured off-duty officer
driving wrong way may have been DUI
[Louisville, KY]

Rick McDonough, The Courier-Journal
December 30, 2000, Saturday met/metro
Copyright 2000 The Courier-Journal
The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY.)
December 30, 2000, Saturday met/metro

(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- An off-duty Louisville police officer headed the wrong way on the Gene Snyder Freeway was badly injured early yesterday when he crashed a city pickup truck into an oncoming tractor-trailer, Jefferson County police said.

Lt. Dale W. Perry was in critical condition last night at University of Louisville Hospital, said Detective Bill Keeling, a city police spokesman. The driver of the tractor-trailer suffered minor injuries.

County police are investigating whether Perry, a 28-year veteran in charge of the city police criminal intelligence unit, was under the influence of alcohol. They took a blood sample to be tested after smelling alcohol at the scene, according to an investigator's report.

Based on the county report, city police began their own investigation, Keeling said. It will be conducted by the department's professional standards unit.

Earlier this month, another off-duty city officer was charged with drunken driving after she crashed her marked take-home cruiser into a guardrail.

Keeling said Chief Greg Smith has a zero-tolerance policy on combining alcohol and city vehicles. City officers cannot drive a city-issued vehicle after they've been drinking even if they're off duty, he said.

Perry entered the Snyder Freeway at Beulah Church Road by heading up the off ramp, county police said. He reached the freeway and was going east in the westbound lane when he ran into the tractor-trailer.

The accident occurred at 3:14 a.m., police said. The impact pushed the pickup's engine into the passenger compartment.

The other vehicle was driven by Steve Perry, 42, of Shelbyville, county police said. He was treated at University Hospital for minor injuries and was released.

Both drivers were wearing seat belts, said Officer Stacey Redmon, a county police spokeswoman.

Dale Perry, 50, suffered multiple injuries to his right leg and hip, and other serious injuries, Keeling said. He's expected to undergo surgery today, Keeling said.

The vehicle he was driving was leased by the city and given to Perry to use while he is both on and off duty, Keeling said.

Redmon, the county spokeswoman, called it ''an undercover vehicle.''

Keeling said he couldn't be specific about the type of work Perry does. He said Perry was off duty, so he didn't know where he was coming from or where he was headed.

He lives on Dawson Hill Road in Jeffersontown, according to county police.

Perry's supervisor, Capt. Richard Dotson, said Perry was on vacation Thursday and was due to return to work yesterday morning.

Redmon said the blood sample taken from Perry was sent to a lab for testing. She couldn't estimate how long it will take to get the results.

The county police investigator, Officer Bobby J. Whitely, obtained a court order yesterday, signed by Jefferson Circuit Judge Steve Mershon, to test Perry's blood for alcohol and drugs.

In his affidavit, Whitely wrote that an officer at the scene ''detected the odor of alcoholic bev.''

Dotson said Perry is single. He has an older brother, Henry, who retired from the city police department more than 10 years ago as a sergeant.

Besides his police work, Perry performs as a singer in a country band that plays at local clubs, Dotson said.

''I've heard him a few times,'' Dotson said. ''He's a pretty good singer.''

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