A Suffolk County school crossing guard was arrested Wednesday morning on drunken driving charges after cops caught her drunk just 15 minutes after leaving her assigned post, police said Wednesday.
Joanne Griffiths, 58, of Blue Point, was arraigned Oct. 24 at First District Court in Central Islip. She was arrested at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday after a fellow motorist called 911 to report that she was driving erratically, cops said.
Insp. Aristides Mojica, the commander of the Fifth Precinct, said the motorist tailed Griffiths as she drove nearly three miles from her crossing guard post at Montauk Highway and Bell Avenue to the parking lot of a Waldbaums grocery store on South Sunrise Highway.
Officials said Griffiths had reported to duty at 7:15 a.m. and left, as scheduled, two hours later. Her job is to assist students crossing near the Blue Point Elementary School.
EXTRA: Listen to a radio-style report of this incident here.
Just about 15 minutes after leaving her crossing guard post, Griffiths was in handcuffs on drunken driving charges. She was formally charged with driving while intoxicated and operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol-content above .08 percent.
“If you look at the timing of the arrest and everything else, it’s fair to conclude she was on post while she was intoxicated,” Mojica said in a phone interview. “That is going to be the subject of an internal investigation.”
School crossing guards are Suffolk County Police Department employees. They are managed at the precinct level and report directly to their assigned posts. A department spokesperson could not say Thursday whether Griffiths has been suspended from her job. It was unclear how long she has worked for the police department.
A phone call placed to the Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees, the union that represents Griffiths, was not immediately returned.
Online court records show Griffiths was additionally charged in connection with a hit-and-run crash. A law enforcement official said the charge was connected to a crash on Tuesday morning where a parked car was hit in front of a business near the Blue Point Elementary School.
A spokeswoman for the Suffolk County district attorney’s office said Griffiths was additionally arraigned Thursday on a charge of leaving the scene of an incident. That charge, officials said, was in connection with the hit-and-run crash.
Dr. Vincent Butera, the Superintendent of the Bayport-Blue Point School District, said Griffiths’ arrest was “extremely concerning" and noted the safety and security of their students is paramount. “We will continue to communicate and work with Suffolk Police throughout this process.”
Griffiths was ordered held on $10,000 bail during the Thursday arraignment and is due back in court on Oct. 31.