A Los Angeles Police Department commander demoted to captain after his department sedan was found crashed and unoccupied in Carson has retired.
Jeff Nolte, who was placed on paid leave after the wreck Jan. 24, "separated" from LAPD on June 1, a department spokesperson confirmed this week. His rank was reduced in February after his city-issued unmarked Dodge Charger was found abandoned with significant collision damage near Avalon Boulevard and 213th Street, officials said.
Nolte was found at home several hours later, several law enforcement sources said.
The CHP said motorists reported seeing a Charger southbound on the 405 Freeway traveling at high speed. They told 911 operators the driver appeared to be drunk and the car was missing a front wheel, the CHP said.
The sources told NBC4’s I-Team Nolte had been at a party involving officers who worked at the Rampart Station just before the car was wrecked. Nolte worked as captain of the Rampart area in 2016, the LAPD said.
Nolte’s car was found in an area patrolled by the LA County Sheriff’s Department, though the Sheriff’s Department gave the case to the LAPD to investigate.
At the time of the crash incident, Nolte was assigned to supervise the LAPD’s Force Investigation Division, which examines officer involved shootings and other incidents in which officers use weapons. He was promoted to the rank of commander in 2018, according to his department biography.
Administrators said Nolte, who earned $199,530 in salary and more than $100,000 in additional health and pension benefits in 2018, enrolled in the City’s DROP program a few days after the crash.
DROP, the Deferred Retirement Option Plan, allows employees to collect their regular pay and early pension payments simultaneously during the final five years of city service. The program came under increased scrutiny by the LA City Council this year after it was revealed a number of police officers and firefighters in the program claimed injuries and disabilities shortly after enrollment.
Mayor Eric Garcetti signaled in February that despite the perceived abuse, DROP would continue to be offered to public safety employees.
"DROP is a critical tool that helps us maintain stability and continuity at our police and fire departments," Garcetti said in a statement.