Montebello Police Officers Slap Chief With Lawsuit
By Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou, EGP Staff Writer
Four Montebello police officers who took part in a 2009 lawsuit against the city’s previous police chief, slapped the city with another legal grievance this month over the alleged remarks and actions of the current police chief.
The lawsuit, filed on June 11, details a litany of allegations, most of it against Police Chief Kevin McClure, who assumed his post in 2011. The city of Montebello, and several other police officers in the department are also named in the suit.
The four officers in the lawsuit claim McClure passed over minorities when promoting officers; took down African American art from the department’s office walls; dismissed cultural diversity training as a “bunch of sh–;” called African Americans “dirty” and women “MILFs” (a derogatory sexual reference); and ignored the officers’ attempts to report potentially illegal activity in the department.
The suit also claims the city breached the settlement agreement from the 2009 lawsuit filed by thirteen Montebello police officers. In that lawsuit, the former police chief, Daniel Weast, was accused of favoring white police officers over minorities.
That lawsuit resulted in a settlement and Weast’s resignation in 2010.
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Despite efforts to reduce discrimination based on gender and race among police ranks, it is not uncommon for members of police departments to still harbor racist or sexist attitudes, said Bradley Gage, the attorney representing the four officers. He previously prosecuted similar cases in Glendale, Bell Gardens and in South Gate, where he won $10.4 million for the officers he represented.
“Until not too long ago, police departments were all white males. Some of the old-timers will remember the earlier days, in which white males were the norm and female police officers weren’t even allowed to do the things men did,” he said.
City officials did not provide a statement by press time regarding the officer’s numerous, strongly-worded allegations, despite repeated inquiries from EGP. Officials said the city’s attorney on this case, Richard Kreisler, would be able to comment, but he has yet to respond.
Councilman Jack Hadjinian said Tuesday that he “could not comment” on the case because it is a closed session item at the Wednesday, June 27 city council meeting, which was held past press time. Councilman Bill Molinari said he has yet to see the lawsuit, so could not comment.
According to the lawsuit, the four officers, one of whom was appointed acting police chief in 2010, were stripped of many of their duties; demoted and given less prestigious, “dead-end” positions; or put on involuntary administrative leave pending an ongoing, but “undefined” internal investigation.
Two of the officers in the lawsuit, Captains Gregory Wilsey and Brian Dragoo, are the subject of an internal investigation. The city had originally said it was for “possible misconduct,” but according to the lawsuit, Wilsey and Dragoo have yet to be informed of why they are being investigated, and feel they are in danger of getting fired because of their numerous attempts to protect their colleagues, Sgt. Kimberly Lundy and Lt. Ricardo Rojas, both also plaintiffs in the lawsuit. All of the police officers have been on the force for more than 20 years.
According to their lawsuit, some of the officers experienced political pressure to support certain candidates in a recent city council election, and during the police chief selection process were pressured to endorse McClure for the position.Print This Post
June 28, 2012 Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.