Allegations Against Police Officer Divides Community

MEDICAL LAKE — Allegations of sexual misconduct against a Medical Lake police officer revealed earlier this week have divided the small West Plains community.

Sergeant Joe Mehrens was placed on paid administrative leave after he was accused of sexually assaulting a co-worker.

Now some people are saying that Mehrens has had trouble controlling his impulses since he started working in Medical Lake. On the other hand others are saying that he’s an outstanding police officer who has guided and protected the community for more than a decade.

The woman claims she was sexually assaulted in the police department back in January when Sgt. Mehrens touched her breasts under the guise of wiping some spilled juice of her blouse. She told a co-worker who informed city hall officials in April.

A Medical Lake investigation stopped short of finding Mehrens had committed an assault but did determine Mehrens had violated proper boundaries.

The alleged victim then took her allegations to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. That investigation concluded a sexually motivated assault had occurred.

The victim used that finding to get a protection order against Mehrens on Monday. The order bars Mehrens from coming within two blocks of the woman’s place of employment and since city hall and the police department are so close together the sergeant can’t come to work.


The claims of sexual misconduct have shocked and angered Mehrens’ neighborhood, with some calling him “a wonderful member of the neighborhood” and has been involved both personally and professionally in every aspect of the community.

Mehrens will remain on paid leave at least until September 5th, when a judge will take another look at the validity of the protection order.

Prosecutors also will have to decide if they want to pursue a 4th degree assault charge recommended by detectives.