Rushville officer resigns amid accusations he gave teens alcohol during police Christmas party
RUSHVILLE, Ind. – A Rushville police officer resigned after letting minors drink at a department Christmas party last week, the police chief said.
According to Rushville Police Chief Craig Tucker, three teenagers were arrested for consumption of alcohol on Dec. 2, 2016, during the department’s annual Christmas banquet. The investigation found the boys were drinking in the parking lot outside the Rushville Knights of Columbus and appeared to be intoxicated. They’d gotten the alcohol from a cooler in the back of a pickup truck.
The department said the teens—two were 16 years old and the third was 17 years old—also got alcohol from Rushville Officer Donald Cochran, who was off-duty at the time. The department launched criminal and internal investigations into the matter.
Investigators said Cochran gave the teens liquor on two separate occasions during the banquet. Faculty and staff of the Rushville Knights of Columbus had no knowledge of the alcohol-related offenses, the department said.
The department submitted its findings to the Rush County Prosecutor’s Office, believing there was probable cause to charge Cochran with contributing to the delinquency of a minor (a felony) and furnishing alcohol to minors (a misdemeanor).
The prosecutor’s office has asked for a special prosecutor to be assigned to the case. The juveniles are charged minor possession of alcohol, a misdemeanor.
Cochran was placed on administrative leave on Dec. 3, 2016. He tendered his resignation effective Dec. 7 to the Rushville Board of Works and Public Safety. The department hired Cochran in April 2014 and he served with the department for about two-and-a-half years.
Chief Tucker released the following statement about the case:
“While this situation will no doubt erode the public trust of the Rushville Police Department in some ways, I hope the transparency with which we have approached this issue and the immediate investigation that followed the incident will underscore to our citizens that this type of behavior is intolerable. Furthermore, any individual associated with the Rushville Police Department will receive consistent treatment if they are unable or unwilling to live up to the standards we expect our employees to abide by. We are hopeful we can work with our community to heal this wound and continue to move forward in a positive direction.”