By CRA News Service
BOCA RATON – Police arrested and charged the Lantana Police chief on Wednesday after he allegedly rear-ended the unmarked car of a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy and then sped off, officials said.
Chief Jeffrey “Jeff” Tyson, 51, was charged with drunk driving and leaving the scene of an accident. He was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail and released to his own custody.
Tyson was northbound on North Military Trail in a maroon Ford Explorer at around 1 p.m., when he crashed into the deputy’s unmarked car at the traffic light at NW 40th Street, between Yamato and Clint Moore roads, according to a police report.
The Explorer changed lanes and continued driving north, but the deputy followed him, activated his lights and pulled Tyson over in the parking lot of the Office Depot headquarters, 6400 N. Military Trail, according to the arrest report.
The deputy, who was not named, told police that when he stopped the Explorer, the driver was ‘confused and disoriented.’ He said when the driver got out of his vehicle he could smell a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage when he spoke.
“What do you want? I only bumped you,” Tyson reportedly said to the deputy.
When a Boca Raton police officer arrived and asked Tyson about the crash, he told him, “I tapped him in the ass…no big deal,” according to the report.
Tyson appeared confused about where he was, even though he said he used to live in Boca Raton, the report said.
Tyson told the officer he was on Federal Highway and on the way home from his doctor.
When told he was not on Federal Highway, Tyson said he was on Congress Avenue.
He also told police that he had visited his sons at Florida Atlantic University and Boca Raton High School.
The investigating officer also said Tyson was had a “strong odor” of alcohol on his breath and began a DUI investigation. He asked Tyson to do a field sobriety test but he declined, police said.
Police arrested Tyson and took him to the Boca Raton Police Department, where the breath test was done.
The report stated Tyson provided breath samples of .229 and .234 – nearly three times the state limit for intoxication. The state legal limit is .08.
Tyson, a former Lantana police captain, has led the 28-officer department since 2010 after he replaced retired chief Rick Lincoln.
Commander Sean Scheller has been named acting chief until more details about the arrest are made available to town officials, Lantana Town Manager Michael Bornstein said.