Michael Opinker

Michael Opinker

HAMMOND — The city's chief fire inspector and former council president was arrested Sunday night for alleged drunken driving, according to police.

Michael Opinker, 59, chief inspector with the Hammond Fire Department, was arrested without incident Sunday night, according local officials and a news release from Hammond Police Lt. Steven Kellogg. 

Hammond police were dispatched at 9:06 p.m. Sunday to the 2600 block of 163rd Place for a report of a crash, the release states. 

When officers arrived, they discovered a black sports utility vehicle, driven by Opinker, struck a parked car, Kellogg said. 

No injuries were reported.

Opinker was charged with operating while intoxicated with a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or higher, Kellogg said. 

Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. confirmed Monday that Opinker was in his personal vehicle and not on the clock when the crash occurred. 

"He was booked, charged and arrested by Hammond PD like any other individual would have been handled in a similar type of situation," McDermott said. 

Opinker at City Hall

Opinker earned an annual salary of $95,187.34 as chief fire inspector in 2018, the latest figure available, according to the state's Gateway salary database. 

The 59-year-old served on the Hammond City Council from 2010 and 2016, when he resigned after he and other elected officials lost a court battle challenging the state's 2012 double dipping law.

The law forbids local government employees from holding public offices that give them financial and policy-making authority.

The law forced Opinker and three other municipal officials to leave elected office so they could retain their more lucrative jobs as city employees.

At the time, Opinker said he couldn’t afford to give up the substantial salary he receives as an assistant Hammond fire chief. His city council job paid $30,000 annually for part-time work. 

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