Deputy sues sheriff’s department for retaliation
March 23, 2012
By KAREN VELIE
A former San Luis Obispo County Sheriff deputy says in a lawsuit that he was retaliated against and eventually terminated after he reported multiple abuses of policy by department heads.
Dale Strobridge filed the civil suit March 13 in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. He includes the county and both former Sheriff Pat Hedges and current Sheriff Ian Parkinson as defendants in the suit.
The complaint states that in 2005, the former sergeant reported the illicit taping of Chief Deputy Gary Hoving to the county’s former human resources director, Deb Hossli. As a result, Hoving filed a lawsuit against the county and received a $660,000 settlement.
In addition, as president of the Deputy Sheriffs Association employee union, in Oct. 2009, Strobridge challenged changes to holiday time made by department heads.
During the 2010 election for sheriff, Strobridge endorsed Joe Cortez, the primary opponent of Ian Parkinson.
During this time, several deputies overheard former department spokesperson and Parkinson campaigner Rob Bryn loudly chastising Strobridge. Bryn accused Strobridge of leaking information to CalCoastNews about a lawsuit in which Parkinson testified as an expert witness in traffic accident reconstruction without informing the court that the plaintiff was his sister-in-law.
Department heads also accused Strobridge of telling CalCoastNews about an internal affairs investigation into sexual misconduct by a deputy stationed at the jail.
Strobridge did not provide CalCoastNews information on either issue.
In late 2009, Strobridge discovered confidential deputy information such as reprimands available for viewing by sworn deputies on the department’s systems z drive.
According to his lawsuit, Strobridge downloaded the files onto his thumb drive and reported the issue to Tami Douglas-Schatz, the county’s director of human resources.
On Feb. 25, 2011, shortly after Parkinson was sworn in, he fired Strobridge for downloading the information and ordered him to hand over his thumb drive, which also contained private union information, the lawsuit says.