Probe continues into battalion chief's DUI charge

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LAFD: Lab security clearance also factors into investigation

By Tris DeRoma

The Los Alamos Fire Department recently received a key piece of information regarding an investigation into one of its own.

According to Chief Troy Hughes, the department has received the official arrest report of Battalion Chief Kelly Sterna.

Now that the department has the report, it can set the wheels of its investigation into motion.

Sterna was arrested at a sobriety checkpoint in Albuquerque Aug. 4,  just after midnight on Eubank Boulevard. According to police, he failed a sobriety test and had a blood alcohol level of .08. Since the arrest, Sterna has been on administrative leave pending the outcome of an LAFD internal investigation.

Hughes said he is not sure when the investigation will wrap up, since Sterna’s guilt or innocence has yet to be determined by the courts. “We operate on the premise of innocent until proven guilty,” said Hughes.

Hughes also said the investigation may be a while because of the department’s relationship with the Los Alamos National Laboratory. “Because there is a security clearance involved, there will be a more extensive investigation, than what you might find in other counties,” Hughes said.

Sterna, 36, has risen through the ranks since joining the LAFD in 2005 as a firefighter. He was promoted to driver engineer in 2009, captain in 2010 and most recently, to battalion chief in 2012. His current assignment is as the battalion chief of LANL Training and LANL exercise coordinator, according to information from the county.