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'Just take me in': Records show off-duty Moorhead officer had blood-alcohol nearly four-times legal limit

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MOORHEAD — A 20-year veteran with Moorhead police faces drunken driving charges after a citizen saw him leaving a Moorhead bar and tipped off authorities who later discovered his blood alcohol concentration was four-times the legal limit.

Sgt. Thad Stafford, 44, is being held in the Clay County Jail and has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation, according to police. He faces two gross misdemeanor charges of DWI.

Officers reported Stafford saying "just take me in," according to documents.

Court records show that Stafford's blood-alcohol concentration was .30 — nearly four times the legal limit of .08.

A blood-alcohol concentration of around .40 is considered potentially lethal.

About 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2, a man called police after seeing what he thought was a drunk man getting into a vehicle outside Mick's Office Bar, 10 Eighth St. S., in Moorhead, police said.

The caller said as Stafford existed the bar, he had a plastic cup in his hand and was stumbling before getting into his car, according to court documents.

A Moorhead officer was dispatched and the license plate information provided by the tipster came back as a personal vehicle of Stafford. The officer then tracked Stafford down about 7:30 p.m., pulling him over near the 2000 block of 33rd Street South in Moorhead.

During the initial investigation, officers observed signs of intoxication, such as Stafford needing to use the driver's door for balance. A Clay County sheriff's deputy was called to continue the investigation to avoid a conflict of interest, according to police.

Moorhead Police Chief Police Chief Shannon Monroe provided this statement:

"The Moorhead Police Department must maintain the trust of the public we serve by being accountable and transparent. We are entrusted to enforce the law and be examples to others. Police officers are human and make mistakes," Monroe said.

"But," he added, "we are not above the law. Our community is safer through actions of citizens that recognize and report suspected intoxicated drivers.

"The officers that took part in this investigation acted appropriately and professionally," Monroe said.

At Stafford's first court appearance Friday, Aug. 3, bond was set at $12,000 without conditions.

His next court appearance is slated for Aug. 30 at 9:30 a.m.

Kim Hyatt

Kim Hyatt is a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and a 2014 graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth. She started her newspaper career at the Owatonna People’s Press covering arts and education. In 2016, she received Minnesota Newspaper Association's Dave Pyle New Journalist Award and later that year she joined The Forum newsroom.

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