Deputy sues sheriff’s department for retaliation

March 23, 2012

Sheriff Ian Parkinson

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.


33 Comments

  1. msminiver says:

    It is not hard to believe that Ian has a personal issue with Dale Strobridge. Strobridge has successfully represented both the San Luis Obispo Police Officers Association and the Deputy Sheriffs Association of the County for decades. All the time Ian Parkinson was on the other side of the negotiating table and lost year after year. Ian blamed Strobridge for the articles. The issue is simple, Strobridge downloaded the information on a public drive and gave it to HR out of concern and then HR staff breached a clear obligation of confidentiality and released the information to Ian Parkinson. Strobridge is entitled to financial restitution, since his rights were violated!
    The unfortunate thing is that we tax payers will pay again for the continued blatant misconduct of local leaders, like Ian’s good friend Chief Swallomen of Paso Robles, Gail Wilcox the notorious County negotiator who knew how to open up for negotiations and then got a pay out on the way out. Then of course Sheriff Hedges who like Nixon got caught serendipitously tape recording others, yet Hedges didn’t say “I am not a crook.” Not a crook, but a power monger with crooked ways. The list goes on and on of top officials violating the rights of staff as if they are Czar’s running their kingdom based upon their whim of the day. Enough, is enough, lets stand up and remove the corruption and if you find yourself on the jury award Strobridge millions in punitive damages against Parkinson and Hedges personally.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 11

  2. Gordo says:

    Did Strobridge alert the deputies whose files he found unsecured or did he download the information and keep it a secret from the involved employees? If he did not tell those people I would ask why? Were they enemies of his? How did he notify the personnel director of the unsecured files? Did he tell her in person? Did he write her a letter? Did he use any of the information for his personal benefit? Did Mr. Strobridge violate Penal Code section 503 c (1) or c (2) by accessing files he had no legal right to and by downloading them on his personal thumbdrive? Is Mr. Strobridge guilty of a felony crime and that was why he was fired? As an attorney I would suggest we see the facts play out in Superior Court before we condemn the sheriff or predict a big payday for Mr. Strobridge.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 7

    • MaryMalone says:

      The confidential files were on a drive where many deputies who should not access them were able to access them. Any deputy with the rights to the Z drive could have downloaded the files.

      And why is Strobridge being targeted? Because Strobridge is a union man, who stood up for his fellow officers, and because Strobridge endorsed Parkinson’s opponent.

      Why hasn’t Parkinson had IT check out the Z drive and see exactly who accessed those files? And then terminated ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE.

      If Parkinson does not terminate ALL of the people who accessed those files, then it definitely is retaliation.

      Then, when Parkinson does his job and gets to the bottom of WHY those files were on the Z drive and identified all the people who accessed them, THEN he can deal with the repercussions of trying to hide his conflict-of-interest relationship with a plaintiff (his sister-in-law) for whom he testified as an expert witness in a court case.

      Was Parkinson getting a kick-back or what?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9

  3. shelworth says:

    Can you fire someone for something they did 21/2 years ago? The county will probably have to shell out a bunch more $$$ to fix this one, but hey, what do they care? It’s not like it’s their money.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  4. Cindy says:

    Ian Parkinson is very sneaky and I have no doubt he retaliated against Strobridge because he believed that there was a CCN connection to the leaks in the SLOSD and he also probably owed Hedges a favor as Hedges certainly had an axe to grind with Strobridge. Its important to remember that Parkinson was behind the Mobile MM raids which were carried out just prior to his taking office as the SLO Sheriff. He knew the public would point a finger at Hedges and Hedges had nothing to lose as he was already out the door and had a reputation for ignoring the will of the people while advancing his own agenda after he went after the Morro Bay MM dispensary. How do we know that Parkinson was behind the Mobile MM NTF raids? We know because his good buddy and employee, Amie Chastin was the undercover buyer who acquired her MM recommendation and impersonated a MM patient. She worked for Parkinson and she had been working undercover on the MM raids for months, yet Parkinson denied all knowledge of investigation or planned raids. His denial of any knowledge was utterly ridiculous and rather telling, but then, no one ever said he was the brightest tool in the shed.

    The guy is slippery and its beyond me how he got voted in as Sheriff when it was known that he testified as an expert for his sister – in – law, unbeknown to the plaintiffs attorneys, the court or the jurors. He also discredited the CHP’s findings in the process of his testimony while claiming that a DUI driver with 3 times the legal limit of alcohol in his system (the father in law) wasn’t responsible for and could not have avoided the car accident that resulted in his own death!

    I should add that we are now, still in better hands than we were when Hedges was in office and so far, it appears that Parkinson is doing a good job especially where the gang problems are concerned. To date, I can not complain about his performance or leadership but I am sorry about Dale Strobridge. No doubt it was personal as Strobridge was one of the few SLOSD who openly supported Cortez and Hedges also wanted him out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 6

    • Cindy says:

      “he testified as an expert for his sister – in – law, unbeknown to the plaintiffs attorneys”

      Sorry, I meant the defendants attorneys.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

    • MaryMalone says:

      Parkinson may be the lesser of two evils, but when you settle for the lesser of two evils, you are still settling for evil.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

  5. MaryMalone says:

    QUOTING THE ARTICLE:
    ———————–
    “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….”

    ———————–

    REPLY:
    1. Apparently, the County Sheriffs staff and associates believe CCN is like the Great Carmack (http://tinyurl.com/7949vvf)–knows all and sees all, and that if there is damaging info about the Sheriffs Dept. that becomes public knowledge, it MUST be coming from CCN. Maybe that’s because they know they have the other local news publications under their thumb.

    2. If Bryn was “loudly chastising” Strobridge, probably a lot of people heard it.

    3. Nice to know SLO County’s Sheriff is such so unethical as to withhold information about a conflict of interest pertaining to his testimony about his sister-in-law, the plaintiff.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 9

  6. Karen Velie says:

    I will be on the KYNS Talk is Cheap radio show at noon to talk about this issue. Turn your radio dial to 1430 AM or listen live by linking here http://socialstreamingplayer.crystalmedianetworks.com/radio/kyns.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 8

  7. smartmouth says:

    Joe Cortez was my pick as well . . . Shame. Good luck Mr. Strobridge!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 25 Thumb down 19

  8. MaryMalone says:

    Good for Strobridge. The Sheriff brought this on himself and his department, and–if they don’t settle pretty quickly–the discovery process should be interesting.

    I’m wondering if leaving the reprimand information available on the Z drive was intentional. If so, wouldn’t those whose information was made available also have cause to sue?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 25 Thumb down 21

  9. Scarlet says:

    I don’t know Dale Strobridge, but what a brave and upstanding individual. I’m sorry he is no longer a sheriff here because he’s the kind of LEO I want protecting me and my family.

    CCN shouldn’t even need to state that he wasn’t their source because it’s pretty obvious he wasn’t. He would see wrongdoing, speak up and then take the complaint through the “proper” administrative channels. And – wow, what a surprise – look what happens when you do. You get fired!

    Parkinson is just like all the others before him. Good, ethical men need not apply.

    Good luck with your lawsuit, Mr. Strobridge.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 34 Thumb down 25

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