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City deputy charged with DWI in North Carolina
Hopkins placed on administrative leave
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
The Martinsville Sheriff’s Office’s chief deputy is on administrative leave after being charged with driving while impaired (DWI) in North Carolina.
Maj. Laura Hopkins was charged by the N.C. State Highway Patrol with DWI on Nov. 8 after being stopped on U.S. 220 in Rockingham County, N.C., city Sheriff Steve Draper said Monday.
She is second in command at the sheriff’s office, after Draper.
Hopkins was off duty and in her personal vehicle when she was stopped, Draper said, adding she was released into the custody of her husband.
Sgt. D.B. Wright of Rockingham County’s highway patrol office confirmed the arrest. He said an arrest report was not available because the incident remains under investigation.
The arresting officer, Trooper J.S. Thomas, was off duty Monday and not available for comment, according to Wright.
Draper said Hopkins was placed on administrative leave, and other “serious disciplinary sanctions are being taken now.” He would not elaborate.
He said that because it is considered a personnel matter, the sheriff’s office would make no other comments on Hopkins’ arrest.
Draper did say that if she is found guilty of the charge, it is possible she could keep her job, he said.
Draper said another Martinsville Sheriff’s Office deputy arrested on a similar charge about eight years ago was found guilty but not fired after completing requirements of an employee assistance program. That deputy still works for the sheriff’s office, he said.
Hopkins immediately reported her arrest to the sheriff’s office, Draper said.
He said he did not initially release information on her arrest or the decision to place her on leave because he considers it a personnel matter, but he did so Monday because word of her arrest was spreading in the community and he thought acknowledging it was necessary.
Under Virginia law, disciplinary actions and similar measures pertaining to specific government employees are considered private.
Draper said he has not named a temporary second in command in Hopkins’ absence and all sheriff’s office captains now are reporting to him.
According to the city’s website, Hopkins has been employed by the sheriff’s office since 1996 and has completed many criminal justice classes offered by local, state and federal sources. She has developed a Clean Start program for jail inmates as well as a program to help them earn GED certificates.