Compiled by Gary Walker
Former LAPD Pacific Division Commander Charged with Public Intoxication
She was a rising star in local law enforcement, achieving the rank of commander and reporting directly to then-LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
But now Cmdr. Nicole Alberca, who was in charge of the LAPD’s Pacific Division from 2015 to early 2017, faces a misdemeanor charge of public intoxication after Glendale police found her and an LAPD Sgt. James Kelly allegedly drunk and passed out in an unmarked police vehicle.
Alberca, 47, pleaded not guilty on Sept. 5 at the Airport Courthouse in Westchester. Both she and Kelly, who faces drunk driving charges, have been relieved of duty without pay since July pending an internal discipline process.
Glendale Police Department spokeswoman Tahnee Lightfoot said police determined Kelly was the driver of the LAPD-issued Dodge Charger, which touched another vehicle in the early hours of April 27 and then stopped in the middle of the road. A Breathalyzer test of Kelly allegedly registered more than twice the legal limit, according to the complaint by county prosecutors. Alberca wasn’t given a Breathalyzer test because she was a passenger, Lightfoot said.
Community organizer Enrique Fernandez, who worked with Alberca on the Mar Vista Gardens Collaborative to improve relations between police and the community, said he was “shocked” by news of her arrest.
Representatives from LAPD’s Police Protective League could not be reached for comment.
Cmdr. Michael Hyams of LAPD’s internal affairs division said he could not comment, but emailed that department rules mandate a misconduct investigation timeline of one year, unless the officer is subject to a criminal investigation.
“In my experience police generally try and cover up public intoxication cases,” said Michael Haddad of the civil rights law firm Haddad & Sherwin, which represents the National Police Accountability Project, a nonprofit that studies police abuses. “When it becomes public, that’s usually a tipping point. Then they usually let the prosecution handle it.”
City Attorney Targets Unlicensed Cannabis Shops
A coordinated crackdown last week on unlicensed recreational cannabis shops has resulted in criminal complaints against 120 allegedly illegal sales operations, including storefronts in Venice and Westchester.
The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office has filed misdemeanor charges of unlicensed cannabis sales against the operators of The Green Top at 744 Washington Blvd. (not to be confused with Green Dot) and Green Memory Collective at 5716 W. Manchester Ave.
“Both operators have been acting without temporary approval from the city,” said Rob Wilcox, a spokesman with the city attorney’s office.
No one answered the phone at The Green Top, and at Green Memory Collective an automated message repeated “We’re sorry, your call did not go through — please try again later.”
All defendants could face up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.
“Our message is clear — if you are operating an illegal cannabis business, you will be held accountable,” reads a statement by L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer.
Santa Monica’s New Electric Scooter Rules Start Monday
A combination of digital tracking technology and shoe-leather code enforcement will provide the muscle behind new electric scooter regulations in Santa Monica that, as of Monday, allow four companies to legally operate as many as 2,000 scooters and 1,000 electric bikes throughout the city.
The program deploys a roving code enforcement officer to cite scooter riders in prohibited areas (including sidewalks, Third Street Promenade and the beach bike path) or without helmets, while real-time tracking information empowers city officials to identify nuisance parking and order companies to correct it.
Kevin Kozar, Santa Monica’s bike-share coordinator, said crafting rules for electric scooters and bikes has been a crash course in how cities can catch-up with disruptive new technologies.
“I’ve learned that patience is really important. There was a lot of panic and angst associated with them, but I think we’ve made a lot of progress,” Kozar said.
“There were lots of times during the last year where people were treating them as an existential crisis,” added Santa Monica Deputy City Manager Anuj Gupta. “But through a lot of hard work I think we’ve established a good regulatory framework.”
Meanwhile, Los Angeles is gearing up to enforce a similar regulatory framework in which operators can seek permits for up to 3,000 devices, plus up to 7,500 additional devices in designated “disadvantaged com-
munities.” L.A.’s program also requires monthly collision reports and for companies to maintain a 24-hour hotline that can respond to complaints about improperly parked scooters within two hours.
Memorial Fund Established for Kayaker Killed in Marina del Rey
Friends of Nicole Willett, the Venice woman who was struck and killed by a 50-foot powerboat while kayaking in Marina del Rey on Labor Day, are establishing a memorial fund to pay for her burial, assist her surviving partner and set up a legacy fund in her name.
Willett, 46, was chief of staff for the Los Angeles Department on Disability. She died of multiple injuries after the boat struck her near the harbor’s south jetty. L.A. County Sheriff’s detectives are investigating the crash but did not initially find evidence of a crime or reckless behavior by the boaters involved.
A private memorial service for Willett will be held in Venice, said friend Andy Lipkis, head of the tree-planting and water-harvesting nonprofit Tree People. He met Willett during a city initiative to repair sidewalks and plant trees.
“She was an amazing person. I’m really going to miss her,” he said.
Lipkis and his wife, who also knew Willett well and had gone kayaking with her three weeks earlier, had a feeling something might be wrong after Willett had gone kayaking alone and did not return after several hours.
“We went to the Marina Sheriff’s station and asked them to search for her. Then we contacted the Coast Guard and they explained what happened,” Lipkis recalled.
The couple is raising money through a gofundme.com page and has collected more than $6,600 from nearly 50 donors.