Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Police officer suspended for sleeping on the job

Paul Morgan called Murfreesboro Police and complained that neighbors were shooting fireworks off at his house. When Officer Michelle Ratleph arrived, Morgan forgot about the fireworks and began to worry about Ratleph's alertness. reported that Morgan said Ratleph began to drift off to sleep while filling out the report.

"[I] started looking at her, concentrating on her face and I could see that her eyes were closed," Morgan said. "It was obvious she was going asleep."

Morgan was so stunned at Ratleph's condition that he pulled out his cell phone and began taking video of her sleeping.

"I counted about 14 times that she dozed off and fell asleep," Morgan said.

In the video, Morgan's wife tried to wake Ratleph several times by turning up the volume on the television, but after Ratleph kept drifting in and out of consciousness, Morgan called her supervisors.

"I felt like I was having to call the police on the police," he said. "I was really concerned with her driving, concerned with her safety and the safety of others."

Ratleph's supervisors agreed and wrote Channel 4, saying "she did herself and the department a disservice if she hurt herself or someone else."

Morgan said Ratleph told him she had worked long hours the day before and was working overtime on that day. The Murfreesboro Police Spokesman Kyle Evans disagreed.

"This is an isolated situation," Evans said. "We think this officer has some type of possible medical issue or maybe didn't get enough sleep the night before she came to work."

Evans said the Murfreesboro Police Department is not understaffed and officers typically only work eight-hour shifts.

Ratleph apologized in the written report and said "it is by no means intentional." As to whether or not Ratleph has a medical condition, the police department couldn't comment.

The Murfreesboro Police Department have suspended Ratleph for seven days without pay. Ratleph will also be under probation for six months.