NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Brooklyn officials are raising awareness about programs that treat substance abuse in law enforcement, following a fatal drunk driving crash involving an off-duty NYPD officer.
Nicholas Batka, 28, was arrested this past weekend on charges including manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated after authorities said his SUV struck four pedestrians in Brooklyn, killing one of them.
The three other victims, all in their 20s, were sent to the hospital in critical condition. Andrew Esquivel, 21, was pronounced dead following the crash.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams says photos of Batka posing with alcohol on his Facebook page were clear indicators the officer had a substance abuse problem, WCBS 880’s Stephanie Colombini reported. Adams believes the deadly drunk driving accident could have been prevented if Batka had received help from the POPPA program, which provides support to law enforcement officers battling addiction.
“This is also an entity that families member who see the warning signs can reach out and report this without any punitive damage coming to the officer.”
Adams is calling on law enforcement officials to better educate families about the program by discussing at family-oriented events, like promotion ceremonies and police graduations.
Police say Batka had worked in the department’s Manhattan transit bureau for 1 1/2 years and has been suspended.
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