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Alcohol Lands Two LAPD officers in Custody

An LAPD supervisor was arrested in Glendale on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Jordan Hansen, Contributor

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LAPD Sergaent James Kelly.

LAPD Commander Nicole Mehringer.

An off-duty Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Sergeant was arrested early Friday morning, April 27, after a Glendale Police Officer found the Sergeant (Sgt.) asleep at the wheel of a car. The passenger in the vehicle, an LAPD Commander, was detained on suspicion of being drunk in public. 

Sgt. James Kelly, 46, now faces two misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or greater, according to Glendale Police Department’s arrest records. No further legal action is being taken against 47-year-old LAPD Commander Nicole Mehringer, but both Officers have been placed on restricted duties. 

The incident took place on the corner of Brand Blvd. and Lomita Ave. at 1:37 a.m., when a Glendale Officer came across Sgt. Kelly’s vehicle while on routine patrol. 

“There was an Officer who was driving his car on Brand,” said Glendale PD Sergeant Dan Suttles. “The Officer saw Sgt. Kelly’s car was resting up against a parked car. There appeared to be no damage, so the Officer got out to investigate and that’s when he saw that the vehicle was occupied by two people.”

After calling for backup, the Glendale Officer attempted to wake the sleeping occupants but was unable to do so. 

“Officers actually had to call a tow-truck driver who was able to overcome the locking mechanisms and get into the car,” said Sgt. Suttles. “Once the Officers were able to get into the car, the occupants woke up.”

Once it became apparent that the occupants were possibly intoxicated, Glendale Officers administered a field sobriety test on Sgt. Kelly, which he failed and was then arrested. Although Commander Mehringer had not been driving the vehicle, she was also placed in custody.

“Commander Mehringer was taken in because she basically didn’t have anywhere to go; what we call drunk in public,” Sgt. Suttles explained. “We wouldn’t treat the Officers any differently to anyone else. All of our drunk in publics, we bring them in, we book them.”

Both Officers were later released from custody after being given several hours to sober up. Sgt. Kelly’s bail was set at $5,000, although as Sgt. Suttles explained, this did not have to be paid: 

“What we do, specifically on misdemeanor cases, is to ‘fight them out’. In other words, the suspect will literally get a citation. It’s the same procedure for all misdemeanor arrests that require a booking.”

Whilst a criminal investigation into the incident is being carried out by Glendale PD, a parallel personnel investigation is being conducted by the LAPD. Tony Im, an LAPD representative, spoke to the University Times:

“Pending an investigation, both officers have been assigned to home,” said the LAPD representative. 

However, the LAPD representative did not speculate how long the investigation may take nor what the possible outcome could be.  

“We have to send Sgt. Kelly’s blood to be worked on by the Los Angeles Crime Lab,” said Sgt. Suttles. “The blood takes a long time to come back. We’re talking anywhere from five to six months, maybe sometimes even longer. We’re not going to file the case until we get the blood work back, so the court date is probably not going to be anytime in the near future.” 

The incident is sure to be a source of embarrassment for the LAPD, as Sgt. Kelly and Commander Mehringer become the third and fourth LAPD officers to be arrested in one week. According to the LA Times, another LAPD Officer is charged with transporting illegal immigrants, whilst yet another is charged with fraud.

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