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It has been confirmed that Travis Burr was dismissed from his position as investigator with the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office. Burr was charged with a DUI after being involved in a three-car accident, details about which have yet to become publicly available.
On August 14, 2010, Burr was driving east from Sadorus when he was involved in the accident. After Sheriff’s deputies showed up on the scene and discovered that Burr was a colleague, the state police were called in to investigate. As stated in court documents, “Subject had a slight odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath and slightly slurred speech. Subject had bloodshot eyes and admitted drinking 6-8 beers since noon. Subject failed SFST’s [Standardized Field Sobriety Tests].” Unfortunately, due to a policy enforced beginning in 2007 by State’s Attorney Julia Rietz, police reports describing the incident in more detail are not available to the public until after the court case is resolved.
Whatever happened, it must have been serious as a DUI is not grounds for the automatic dismissal of a police officer. Some may remember when Lisa Staples, a police detective with the Champaign Police Department, was given a DUI for driving an unmarked squad car the wrong way on Interstate 72. After a special prosecutor was assigned to the case, she was given court supervision and could continue driving. As her attorney Ed Piraino stated, “If she can’t drive, she can’t be a police officer.” Staples was allowed to keep her job, but resigned after public outrage over the special treatment she received.
At the most recent hearing, Burr’s attorney Mark Lipton asked for a continuance. Lipton stated for a second time that he was waiting for discovery from the Sheriff’s Department, this day saying there was a booking video he has asked for. Judge Richard Klaus was surprised, saying he did not know there was video taken during booking, but still granted the continuance. Burr is due back in court on January 6, 2011 at 10:30 a.m.
At a candidates’ forum on October 20, 2010, Sheriff Dan Walsh, who has since won re-election, told me that Burr had been dismissed but would not explain the specifics. What happened on that day in August may eventually come out, but not until after Burr has been dealt with in the courts. The story has not been followed by the News-Gazette since the initial arrest. By the time the public finds out what happened, a sweetheart deal may already be sealed.