The California Highway Patrol commander for the Williams Area was arrested for driving under the influence last month, while he was on the job and driving a state vehicle, Colusa County Superior Court records show – but he was never booked into jail.
Lt. Brian Edwin Goldhammer, 41, was cited and released for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher – both misdemeanors.
The arrest happened over a month ago, but only came to the Pioneer Review’s attention last week, when the Goldhammer’s case was discovered on the Colusa County Superior Court website.
According to the “Notice to Appear” form issued by the CHP, which was included in the Colusa County Superior Court case file, Goldhammer was cited for those charges at 4:48 PM on Thursday, August 16, by Sgt. Saul Bernal – who works out of the Willows Area Office.
The form indicates that while allegedly under the influence, Goldhammer was driving a black two-tone, 2015 Ford Explorer, registered to the California Highway Patrol. The location listed for the violations was 100 E St., Williams, CA – the address for the Williams Area CHP Office.
Franco Castillo, the public information officer for the Williams Area CHP Office, said that the matter was being handled by the Northern Division Office out of Redding. He referred all questions regarding Goldhammer’s arrest to Calvin Robertson, who is the Northern Division CHP’s public information officer.
On Monday afternoon, Robertson emailed a written statement from CHP Northern Division Chief Scott Gillingwater, regarding Goldhammer’s arrest.
“On Thursday, August 16, 2018, a CHP Willows Area sergeant arrested Lt. Brian Goldhammer at the Williams CHP office on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. The alleged behavior occurred while the employee was on duty,” Gillingwater said in the statement. “The CHP is investigating this incident and, upon its completion, will forward the case to the Colusa County District Attorney’s Office. The CHP is also conducting an internal investigation into the allegations.
“I want to assure the public that we take any allegation of misconduct by our employees, whether on or off duty, very seriously,” Gillingwater continued. “The CHP is a professional organization. I want to emphasize to the public that the alleged conduct of this employee does not reflect the values, hard work, dedication, and professionalism of the CHP and its more than 11,000 employees, who proudly work each day to provide the best in Safety, Service, and Security to the people of California.”
The Colusa County District Attorney filed charges against Goldhammer on Aug. 27. On Sept. 14, the Colusa County Superior Court issued Goldhammer a notice to appear at his arraignment, which is scheduled for Oct. 2.
The internal investigation into the allegations against Goldhammer is ongoing, Robertson said, adding that Goldhammer is still employed by the CHP. Sgt. David Corona is serving as the interim Williams Area CHP Commander at this time, Robertson confirmed.
Also included in the email from Robertson was a CHP arrest report. According to that report, on the afternoon of August 16, “uniformed staff at the Williams Area CHP office observed objective signs and symptoms of alcohol intoxication” of Goldhammer. The Williams area uniformed staff requested a Willows CHP officer to handle the investigation.
Sgt. Bernal and Willows Area CHP Commander Tyler Eccles responded to the Williams Area CHP office, where a DUI investigation of Goldhammer was completed. According to the report, Goldhammer was arrested at 4:48 PM, and cited and released a little over an hour later, at 6:01 PM on Aug. 18.
“Goldhammer submitted to all field sobriety tests and was subsequently arrested for DUI,” the release said. “He submitted to a required chemical test and was later cited and released per county protocol.”
Asked why Goldhammer was not booked into jail for the misdemeanor DUI charges, Robertson said that the Williams Area CHP office has a ‘cite and release program’ in place, and that it is not uncommon for alleged first-time DUI offenders to be cited and released.
“I believe that DUI is pretty much the only thing that our department – in terms of misdemeanors – cites and releases for,” Robertson said. “At least, that’s the most common thing.”
In a cite and release scenario, someone who is arrested would essentially promise to appear in court by signing a ‘misdemeanor ticket’ – which is what happened in Goldhammer’s case.
“They would be issued a CHP (Form) 215, which is basically the document that says you’re required to appear in court,” Robertson said. “So they’re actually going to sign that ticket there instead of a typical complaint-to-be-filed type of thing, that goes through the district attorney’s office. So, the (arresting) officer has that decision to make: If the area has a cite and release program, the officer has the decision to make whether or not (citing and releasing) is appropriate, and he can – if the person meets the criteria…”
When asked directly, Robertson said that Goldhammer did not receive preferential treatment as a the commander of the Williams Area CHP Office.
“In this case, the arresting officer is actually a sergeant from the Willows Area Office. Officers and sergeants regularly make this decision, with many individuals in the public,” Robertson said. “I can confidently say that this is a decision that we deal with all the time. It’s not an unusual thing to cite and release an individual if they meet certain criteria.”
Among those criteria are that it is a first time offense, and another is that the individual arrested has proper, valid California identification, Robertson said. He added that additional specific criteria for the Williams Area CHP’s ‘cite and release’ policy would be outlined in the office’s Standard Operating Procedures. The Pioneer Review will be requesting a copy of the relevant documents in the near future.
Asked why the California Highway Patrol did not issue a statement on the arrest until after they were contacted by the Pioneer Review a month later, Robertson said that the CHP doesn’t send out press releases for DUI arrests unless there is some sort of major traffic collision, or it affects some other operations of the roadway.
“Most of our DUI arrests go without press releases,” Robertson said. “And I think that’s, you know, kind of just the case.” ■