Ormond Beach, FL – Ironic body-camera footage reveals a retired Putnam County Sheriff failing every field sobriety test he takes, while telling deputies during the tests that he “wrote the book on DUI.”
Sheriff Jeff Hardy was subsequently arrested for driving under the influence. Hardy was previously sheriff of Putnam County. Revealing the blue privilege consistently extended to members of the “thin blue line,” the stop resulting in Hardy’s arrest was his second contact with law enforcement that day—with his first contact with officers, earlier in the day, resulting in officers escorting an intoxicated Hardy to his brothers home.
Sgt. Keith Peck of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, who was wearing the body camera, can be heard noting that the Ormond DUI stop was the officers’ second official meeting with Hardy that day.
“I’m done. I’m done,” Hardy said to Peck about one minute into the video.
“No, you’re not done because this is our second time out here tonight, which means this is going to keep going on,” Peck said.
Subsequently, Hardy’s brother, Todd Hardy called 911 on his brother.
“Jeff Hardy is insane. He grabbed my throat. And I’m done with him. We’ve already had the police here once,” Todd Hardy said to the dispatcher. “Leave my property.”
Officers reportedly found the former sheriff one street over behind the wheel of his vehicle. Hardy, who claims during the footage that he “wrote the book on DUI,” is seen barefoot as he fails every field sobriety test he is given.
“One, two, s***, three, four, five. I was home and I just pulled out of my f****** driveway,” Hardy said as he attempted to count his steps while walking in a straight line.
The body camera footage shows Hardy lightly punching Peck in the chest, with Peck quickly instructing Hardy not to touch him. If someone that wasn’t a former cop had done the same, it’s likely they would have been met with violent force.
Hardy can be heard on the video gives numerous excuses as to why he is unable to pass the tests—with him claiming at one point that he’s having trouble with the tests due to one of his legs being shorter than the other. Later he attempts to claim that he has a broken leg.
“Well, your leg’s not broken or you wouldn’t be walking,” Peck said.
“No, it’s f****** broken,” Hardy said.
Hardy can be seen in the footage holding onto Peck’s police cruiser, unable to stand on one leg as the deputy had instructed. The entire episode is reminiscent, in many ways, of an old three stooges skit.
“This is an exercise that doesn’t require you holding onto my police car, OK?” Peck said.
“Well, I wrote the f****** book on this,” Hardy responded.
“You wrote the book on DUI?” Peck said.
“Yeah. I don’t drive and drink,” Hardy said.
Peck then handcuffs Hardy only minutes later—and in typical police fashion claims Hardy was resisting arrest.
“You know, when you start pulling away, that’s resisting,” Peck said.
“Trust me, I’ve done this for 32 f****** years,” Hardy said.
“I’ve done it for 38,” Peck said.
The former sheriff refused to submit to a breathalyzer test, but body-camera footage showed a Putnam County Sheriff’s Office koozie and an open can of Miller Lite under a seat in Hardy’s truck. Additionally, police found that Hardy was carrying his badge in the center console of his vehicle.
“Don’t know why he’s still carrying that around,” Peck said.
Putnam County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Hancel Woods said there is no formal policy about what retirees must do with their badges, according to CBS 47.
“The law enforcement officer’s badge is a representation of their authority. But it’s not – the formal authority actually comes from their credentials,” Woods said.
Woods said retirees typically get to keep their badges as mementos.
While Woods says that the badge is simply a representation of the authority, with formal authority coming only from credentials, to a layman on the street it’s likely that they would act differently to someone saying they are a cop and flashing a real badge—and judging by Hardy’s actions during the stop it’s certainly not beyond the realm of reasonable possibilities.