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LANCASTER, Ohio (WCMH) – A Columbus police officer arrested on OVI charges last week faced a similar vehicular charge four years ago.
Robbie Whitlow, one of three Columbus police officers arrested on OVI or similar charges over a four-day span, was arraigned Tuesday in Fairfield County court. Whitlow, 35, pleaded not guilty and was released on bond under several conditions, including no consumption of alcohol or drugs.
Additionally, Whitlow must complete a drug and alcohol assessment and any follow-up testing. He is also not permitted to drive or leave Ohio without permission.
On March 13, a Columbus police officer observed Whitlow driving erratically and detected slurred speech with a strong odor of alcohol, both from Whitlow and inside his vehicle. According to court records, Whitlow told the officer that he was on his way home after having a few drinks at the Twins Tavern, near Refugee Road in Pickerington.
He refused a field sobriety test and was taken into custody.
In bodycam footage, Whitlow said he was a Columbus police officer and that he’d been in trouble for OVI before. That occurred in 2019, when he pleaded guilty to failure to control, or being in control of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
One does not have to be driving or operating the vehicle to be charged with failure to control, a first-degree misdemeanor.
Whitlow, along with Sgt. Melvin Romans and Officer Taylor Nixon, were placed on leave last week after their arrests.
Romans was seen stopped in the middle of an intersection, then pulled over and denied having anything to drink. The sergeant, who had previously been named the Columbus Officer of the Year in 2022 by Central Ohio Crime Stoppers, took a field sobriety test and was arrested.
Nixon, who also took a field sobriety test, was arrested, and was additionally charged with improperly handling a firearm.
A fourth Columbus police officer — Trier Knieper — remains on duty after being charged with OVI, drag racing or street racing, and speeding for a Jan. 3 incident along Interstate 270. She is due back in court on April 24.