Crime & Courts

Veteran CMPD officer charged with DWI after crashing into truck

A veteran Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer was charged with driving while impaired after authorities said he crashed into a truck while responding to a traffic wreck three hours into his shift Friday morning.

Officer Richard Andringa, 49, a CMPD patrol officer since November 1988, has been placed on administrative leave without pay, Chief Kerr Putney said at a news conference Friday. The department has mounted an internal and criminal investigation into the officer’s wreck. Andringa was assigned to the North Tryon division.

Putney, who has been with the department for 23 years, said he couldn’t recall a CMPD officer ever being arrested for DWI while on the job.

Andringa also was charged with drinking while operating a law enforcement vehicle, Mecklenburg County Jail records show.

At 9:12 a.m., Andringa, while in uniform and driving a marked cruiser, was responding to a wreck on Orr Road when he struck the rear of a truck stopped at 6200 N. Tryon St., where the road intersects with Arrowhead Drive, according to an incident report. The cruiser sustained minor damage, and there was no damage to the truck.

No injuries were reported.

Following standard procedure for officers involved in car wrecks, a department supervisor responded to the scene and gave Andringa an alcohol and drug assessment.

Tests showed that Andringa’s blood alcohol level was at 0.09 – over the legal minimum of 0.08, Putney said.

He said there was no evidence of alcohol containers or drug paraphernalia in the officer’s cruiser.

“Officers with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department are expected to conduct themselves to the highest professional standards and will be held accountable when they fail to do so,” Putney said in a statement. “At no time will this department tolerate behavior that violates the law or our community’s trust.”

Putney described Andringa as a strong officer who had no disciplinary issues during his 26 years with the department, except for a “preventable accident in 1989 when he was a rookie cop. But nothing since that time.” The chief didn’t provide any other details of that incident.

Putney also would not say whether Andringa’s driving had been erratic in the hours before Friday’s wreck.

He said the incident shouldn’t reflect poorly on the whole department.

“This is one mistake an officer made, and this does not color, in any way, the vast majority of our officers who do heroic work for this community every day,” he said. “Mistakes were made. I encouraged our officers to take note and make sure they’re behaving accordingly.

“And to be very keenly aware that we have a high level of responsibility on our shoulders. This time someone failed that level of responsibility.”

Researcher Maria David contributed.

McFadden: 704-358-6045; @JmcfaddenObsGov

Perlmutt: 704-358-5061; @dperlmutt