Two SWAT officers in tactical gear during a daylight operation in a suburban setting. One officer is standing while carrying a rifle, wearing a helmet and protective glasses. The other officer is standing beside a fence, pointing a handgun up toward a second-story window. The background shows dry vegetation.
Vallejo Police Ofc. Seamus Lanham (left) stands guard during a SWAT standoff on Aug. 12, 2023 in Vallejo, Calif. Credit: Geoffrey King / Open Vallejo

A Vallejo police officer on probation for a DUI conviction less than two years ago remains on the force as a member of the department’s SWAT team, an Open Vallejo investigation has found. 

Ofc. Seamus Lanham, 28, was convicted of driving with a blood alcohol content three times the legal limit after being pulled over in Roseville, Calif., in March of 2022, court records show. The officer is among at least five current and former Vallejo police employees with a DUI conviction on their record within the last decade, according to court records spanning several jurisdictions obtained by Open Vallejo. All five still work for the department or another law enforcement agency in the region. 

A grayscale photocopied photograph of a young man with short hair with a neutral expression as he sits on a chair in a sparsely furnished room. He is wearing a black t-shirt with a logo, and his jeans are rolled up to show an ankle monitor on his right leg.
A photograph from Seamus Lanham’s Placer County Superior Court file documents the installation of his court-ordered ankle monitor on June 25, 2022. Credit: Placer County Superior Court

Lanham, who joined the department in November of 2019, has been a member of Vallejo’s SWAT team since at least August 2023, Open Vallejo research shows. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Sgt. Rashad Hollis, the department’s spokesperson, declined to comment for this article, citing state peace officer confidentiality laws. Hollis did not answer questions about whether the department disciplined Lanham after his conviction or the timing of Lanham’s assignment to the specialized, high-risk team. 

In response to a public records request seeking confirmation of Lanham’s place on the SWAT team and the start date of his assignment, police administrative analyst and public records coordinator Teresa Olson told Open Vallejo the records were exempt from disclosure and closed the request. 

When this newsroom noted that the city released similar information about SWAT and hostage negotiation team assignments weeks earlier, assistant city attorney Katelyn Knight said disclosing those details was “in error” and that the documents would be unpublished and retroactively redacted. The records were no longer publicly available on the city’s public records portal as of Wednesday afternoon.

‘Acts that violate the law’

An officer from the Roseville Police Department stopped Lanham at 3:42 a.m. on March 5, 2022, on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, according to court records. 

Placer County prosecutors charged Lanham with two misdemeanors: driving under the influence of alcohol and doing so with a blood alcohol level higher than 0.08 percent. Lanham’s blood alcohol level was 0.24 percent, according to court records. 

Two police officers in a patrol SUV, visible through the passenger side window, with one officer waving and the other raising his hand in a greeting or gesture. The car, marked with 'Vallejo Police' and the unit number '161', is partially shaded, with a motel partially visible in the background.
Vallejo Police officers Seamus Lanham (left) and Zachery Horton leave the scene of a shooting on April 21, 2024 in Vallejo, Calif. Credit: Geoffrey King / Open Vallejo

Lanham, who stands at 5 feet 6 inches and weighs 150 pounds, according to his driver’s license, would have needed to consume approximately nine drinks to reach that level of impairment, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A person with that blood alcohol level would likely experience “gross disorientation to time and place,” vomiting, difficulty standing, and be in danger of blacking out, according to the agency. 

Lanham pleaded no contest in Placer County Superior Court to one misdemeanor DUI count on June 14, 2022, court records show. 

A scanned image of a police citation form from the Roseville Police Department, filled out with details of a misdemeanor offense for driving under the influence. The form includes sections for the offender's personal information, vehicle description, and violation details, with checkboxes and handwritten notes. Some personal details are redacted for privacy
Seamus Lanham’s March 5, 2022 DUI citation. Open Vallejo has redacted Lanham’s home address, date of birth, driver’s license number and vehicle identification number. Credit: Placer County Superior Court

Judge Alan Pineschi dismissed the second misdemeanor after Lanham’s attorney admitted to the allegation concerning his client’s high blood alcohol content, according to the records. 

Pineschi sentenced Lanham to 20 days in jail with an alternative sentencing option and three years of informal court probation, according to court records. The judge also ordered him to pay $1,914 in fines and fees. 

Later that summer, Lanham completed a nine-day electronic monitoring program, during which he wore a GPS ankle monitor, records show. He also completed a nine-month DUI first-offender program in Sonoma County, as ordered by the judge, according to the records.

New California legislation, Senate Bill 2, which went into effect in January, requires law enforcement agencies to report all acts of serious misconduct by officers to the state’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training

Under a new statewide decertification process, POST can suspend or revoke a peace officer’s certification for serious misconduct, which may include “acts that violate the law and are sufficiently egregious or repeated,” according to the agency.

On its own, a DUI would not be actionable unless it was “inconsistent with a peace officer’s obligation to uphold the law or respect the rights of members of the public,” either through a pattern of conduct or other aggravating factors, POST press information officer Meagan Poulos told Open Vallejo in an email Wednesday. “A single DUI with ‘enhancements’ may elevate the act to egregious conduct.” 

Factors that trigger a sentencing enhancement include driving at an excessive rate of speed, endangering a child, causing property damage, or having a blood alcohol level of 0.20 percent or higher.

“These cases are largely fact dependent, and each case must be reviewed to determine if the factors meet the threshold of egregious or repeated acts,” Poulos wrote.

Hollis declined to say whether the department notified POST about Lanham’s misdemeanor conviction. POST has not suspended or revoked any Vallejo officer’s certification, according to a database maintained by the state agency and updated weekly. 

‘People make mistakes’

Court records show that numerous current and former Vallejo police employees have been convicted of DUIs over the last decade. 

A police officer in a dark blue uniform and tactical gear stands in a grassy area beside a Belgian Malinois police dog, which is sitting and panting. The officer, with a serious expression, gestures with his hands as if explaining or instructing, while wearing a badge and cap marked "POLICE."
American Canyon Police Ofc. Jade McLeod speaks to children while attending a Boy Scouts event with his K-9 partner Brody on Aug. 5, 2021. Credit: American Canyon Police Department

Almost a year after leaving the Vallejo police force, Jade McLeod was charged with a misdemeanor DUI in Solano County Superior Court following his arrest by the Vacaville Police Department, according to public records. He appeared before Commissioner Bryan Kim in 2020, records show, although the final disposition of the case is unclear. McLeod, who worked as a Vallejo police officer from 2014 to 2019 after serving in the U.S. Air Force, now works as a K-9 officer for the American Canyon Police Department, a contract agency of the Napa Sheriff’s Office.

Henry Wofford, public information officer for the agency, said McLeod notified his employer of the DUI incident and “never tried to hide anything” in a Tuesday interview. 

“People make mistakes, and if it’s a reoccurring mistake, obviously maybe they’re not suitable to be a cop. But for the Napa County Sheriff’s Office, we see Jade as a person who’s done exceptional work, which is why he continues to work for us,” said Wofford, noting that misdemeanors among officers are handled on a case-by-case basis. 

In May of 2016, Ofc. Stephanie McDonough, now a Vallejo homicide detective, was convicted in Solano County Superior Court for a misdemeanor DUI, according to court records. Vacaville police pulled her over after she was observed driving more than twice the speed limit, according to an internal memo obtained by Open Vallejo. A sobriety test revealed that McDonough had a blood alcohol level of 0.16 percent, or twice the legal limit in California. 

The department suspended McDonough for 40 hours without pay for breaking the law and engaging in “unbecoming” conduct. She now serves as a field training officer and hostage negotiator, public records show. 

Two police officers in conversing outside a building at night. The officer on the left is a woman and is taking off a tactical helmet. The officer on the right is a man. Both are smiling broadly. Other officers and people are visible in the background.
Vallejo Police Ofc. Stephanie McDonough (center) greets Ofc. Zachary McKenna after police cleared members of the public from a city council meeting following an unlawful assembly order on May 14, 2019 in Vallejo, Calif. The council later restarted the meeting after families impacted by police violence had left. Credit: Geoffrey King / Open Vallejo

Earlier this year, officers in Cotati, Calif., stopped McDonough near her department-issued SUV following her shift in Vallejo, public records show. The officers did not arrest or tow McDonough, but rather allowed her to leave with two on-duty Vallejo officers who came to pick her up and secure the vehicle. Following the encounter, Cotati Police Chief Chris Simmons told Open Vallejo that McDonough “voluntarily left the scene” and that “facilitating a safe ride home for citizens is a routine process in similar situations.”

A former Vallejo officer, Joseph Kevin Coelho, also faced a misdemeanor DUI conviction during his time with the department, records show. 

Coelho was pulled over by Roseville police in July of 2015, his first year as a Vallejo police officer, court and public records show. He was driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent, exactly the legal limit, according to court records. 

A police officer in uniform and a K-9 unit dog posing next to a police SUV. The officer, smiling and standing confidently, holds the leash of the German Shepherd, which sits beside him looking directly at the camera. The SUV has the Vallejo Police emblem and "K-9 UNIT" marked on it, set against a residential background with lush greenery.
Then-Vallejo Police Ofc. Joseph Coelho poses for a photograph with his K-9 partner Otis on July 19, 2019. Credit: Vallejo Police Department

Pineschi, the same Placer County judge who would later sentence Lanham, sentenced Coelho to three years of probation, one day in jail, and nearly $1,000 in fines and fees, according to records. He completed a six-week “wet and reckless” class and a three-month first-offender DUI program, court records show. He was suspended for 30 days without pay in Feb. 2016, according to an internal letter of suspension obtained by Open Vallejo.

Coehlo left Vallejo in 2022 and started work as a deputy with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. Last week, Coehlo was sworn in as an officer with the Rocklin Police Department, located just five miles northeast of Roseville, according to a Facebook post by the agency. He declined to comment when reached by phone Tuesday. 

Olson, the public records coordinator and a former dispatch supervisor for the department, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor DUI complaint in 2015, according to court records. She worked as a part-time dispatcher in Vallejo at the time of the incident, according to Transparent California, a database tracking government employee compensation. She did not respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, as some rank-and-file Vallejo police employees have faced arrest and prosecution, at least one top leader faced an alcohol-related accusation from within the department. In March of 2022, then-Deputy Chief Jason Ta allegedly arrived to a homicide scene with watery eyes and smelling strongly of alcohol, according to an internal memo previously disclosed by Open Vallejo. Police Chief Shawny Williams abruptly resigned less than seven months later, leaving Ta in charge of the department pending the appointment of a permanent police chief.

Anna Bauman is an investigative reporter with Open Vallejo.