Police investigate trooper after minor collision in Eagle River

IMPAIRED DRIVING: No charges filed in two separate incidents.

May 6, 2011 

A veteran Alaska State Trooper is under investigation for impaired driving by Anchorage police and has been placed on paid leave from his job following a minor collision involving a state-owned vehicle in Eagle River, according to state officials and a police report.

Troopers Investigator Eric Burroughs showed "signs of impairment" after driving April 8, the Anchorage Police Department report said. Police investigated him for driving under the influence after the collision, the police report said. He was also involved in a separate hit-and-run accident the same day, according to the report.

One month after the collision, Burroughs, 44, has not been charged or arrested. Police are saying little about the incident itself.

Reached at his home by phone Friday, Burroughs declined to comment.

Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew said he could not comment on details of his department's investigation.

"I can't get into it," Mew said, citing the ongoing investigation. "There are times when we can't comment on certain things, and this is one of those times."

Officials with the Alaska State Troopers and the state Department of Public Safety each confirmed Burroughs is the subject of an investigation by Anchorage police but provided few details.

"We're waiting for APD to get their case done, and then we'll do an internal investigation," said Col. Keith Mallard, who heads the Alaska State Troopers.

According to a copy of the police report obtained by the Daily News, Burroughs was driving a blue 2010 Ford Explorer -- an unmarked Alaska State Trooper vehicle -- that struck his own green Toyota 4Runner at his home. There were no witnesses to the collision, the report says, but Burrough's wife saw him in the Trooper SUV with the keys in the ignition after the accident, the report says.

"(He) was unable to make any statements to me when I contacted him and he was transported by EMS to the hospital due to his altered mental status," wrote Anchorage Police Officer James Dokken.

Just prior to that, Burroughs was involved in a separate hit-and-run collision, the report says. Anchorage police refused to say when or where that collision occurred, if there were any injuries or property damage reported, or provide additional details.

Separate reports were written for the hit-and-run investigation and the subsequent impaired driving investigation, according to Dokken's report. Police refused to release any of the reports or refer directly to any information in them.

"We conducted an investigation that sounds similar to the one you're talking about, and we will make a charging decision when we see the results of the lab work, and we don't have that yet," said Mew, the Anchorage police chief.

Speaking generally, Mew said evidence used to arrest impaired drivers includes blood and breath samples. Officers also conduct field sobriety tests on suspected drunk drivers, and specially trained officers can detect drug use and medical ailments, Mew said.

Burroughs has not worked since the April 8 incident, said Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety Robert Gorder.

"We have opened an administrative investigation case that is (on hold) until Anchorage Police Department's criminal investigation is completed," Gorder said.

Burroughs was on the job the day of the accident, but off duty when the crash occurred, Gorder said. Burroughs' normal three days off followed and he was placed on paid leave the day he was scheduled back at work, April 12, Gorder said.

The trooper investigator continues to collect the normal $3,649.50 in pay he gets every two weeks, Gorder said.

Troopers didn't say when they took back the state vehicle from Burroughs, but Mallard said all equipment issued to troopers must be returned if they are placed on administrative leave. That includes the suspended trooper's badge and any firearms he or she has been issued, Mallard said.

Meantime, troopers are waiting for police to finish their investigation, he said.

"We want to be very careful, because whatever the consequences that are coming to Investigator Burroughs, based on his actions, we want to make sure that they're based on sound facts so that, whatever that is, it's something that sticks" Mallard said.

It's not unusual for an impaired driving investigation to take as long as a month, Deputy Commissioner Gorder said. But based on his experience, most drunken driving investigations proceed more quickly, he said.

"What all happened during this investigation, I can't really speak to, because that's the Anchorage Police Department, as to what steps they had to take to put their case together. So I'd rather not speculate on those steps," Gorder said.

Burroughs has worked for the Alaska State Troopers for 13 years, a spokeswoman said.

Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.

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