Arroyo Grande police chastise city council
September 23, 2014
UPDATE: Following are the opinions of six members of the Arroyo Grande Police Officers’ Association.
OPINION By SHAWN COSGROVE
Hello, my name is Shawn Cosgrove and I am the president of the Arroyo Grande Police Officers’ Association.
First, I would like to thank the public for their support in this matter. Thank you.
Second, I would like to address the notion that the POA will be involved in selecting an investigator for the independent investigation. The POA will not participate in this process. It is not the duty of the police to investigate personnel matters and policy violations of our city leaders.
All we ask is that the selection process, all communications, and the investigation itself be made completely public so that everyone can determine for themselves what the truth is. It must be recognized that certain members of this council have chosen to prejudge the so-called evidence and have already pre-determined what the outcome should be. The only way to address this conflict is through transparency.
I would like to address a few issues that need clarity because it is apparent that the council does not understand.
The council has stated that there were no violations of policy during the incident.
This is wrong.
The council has made statements that our actions are fueled by labor negotiations.
This is wrong.
This council has publicly come to the conclusion that the independent investigation will result in the same outcome.
This is presumptive and irresponsible to conclude.
The council has expressed concern over the cost of this investigation.
The truth is, the investigation costs will be nothing compared to the cost of law suits due to hostile work environment, sexual harassment and unfair and disparaging treatment of employees.
This is bigger than the incident at city hall. The actions of the city council by publicly dismissing this issue far exceed the act by the city manager.
OPINION By JEREMY BURNS
Hello, my name is Jeremy Burns and I am a member of the Arroyo Grande Police Officers’ Association.
First, we want to respond to the statement issued by the mayor this last weekend:
Quote: “The AGPOA alleges a cover up.”
• Google’s definition of a cover up: An attempt to prevent people discovering the truth about a serious mistake or crime.
• Webster’s definition: A effort to hide dishonest, immoral or illegal act or situation.
This is exactly what we are alleging and will be addressed as we proceed.
But let’s start with the third paragraph of the mayor’s response. Yes Mr. Mayor, the community had five trained and experienced police officers who were witness to the incident that occurred at city hall.
In your response you stated, “Did the officers at any time observe the parties involved in anything illegal or inappropriate. Their collective response was no.” This is very much a misstatement.
Of course they did not witness any criminal activity or they would have taken the appropriate enforcement action and we would be standing in a court of law. But let us discuss the notion of inappropriate.
Stating something is inappropriate is a conclusion derived from the interpretation of facts. The officers were told to document the facts. They did as they were instructed, and documented just the facts. The officers refrained from documenting any interpretation of the facts or their opinions because it was against what they were directed to do. At no time did anyone ask the officers, “Did you observe anything inappropriate?” Because then that would be the officer’s interpretation of the facts. Even in their interviews, the officer’s were never asked to interpret the facts or asked if they saw anything “inappropriate.” They were never asked for additional information or to draw conclusions about what they observed based on their training and experience as professional police officers. Had they been asked to provide this information in a complete and thorough investigation, I would think we would be having a very different conversation. But since those interviews were not recorded, I guess we will never know.
OPINION By SHANE DAY
Hello, my name is Shane Day and I am a member and past president of the Arroyo Grande Police Officers’ Association.
You assert that another investigation is not likely to not produce any new information. This is premature and irresponsible unless you have already predetermined the outcome. The initial investigation was informal, inadequate and not based on all the evidence available.
Another investigation is not likely to not produce any new information? How can you make a statement like that and still claim that you are seeking the truth?
You state our letter of no confidence serves no purpose. On the contrary, it serves every purpose. As this incident progressed, we waited and waited and waited for a complete, thorough and formal investigation into the misconduct of Mr Adams. We even waited while our citizens demanded this be done. Only when it was clear that you had no intention of seeking the truth and holding those responsible accountable were we forced to come forward. This is the last thing we wanted and you have forced us into an extremely uncomfortable position.
OPINION By MICHAEL MARTINEZ
Hello, my name is Michael Martinez and I am vice president of the Arroyo Grande Police Officers’ Association.
Most importantly you wrote, and I quote, “If there is additional information that the five officers are not sharing, we would encourage them to step forward…” How dare you! More than once now you have pointed fingers at the officers instead of taking accountability and holding those responsible accountable. In this statement, you are insinuating officers are dishonest and withholding information. This is untrue and extremely offensive.
We documented the facts as directed and expected a thorough, complete and formal misconduct investigation would be conducted including all additional evidence such as the missing internal city hall security camera footage that finally just resurfaced and not just relying on one set of facts, one piece of the puzzle. All available evidence should have been sought out, discovered and documented so the appropriate disciplinary actions could have been taken. You do conduct a real investigation by sitting back and hoping that witnesses come forward; you go seek them out.
Finally, you stated, “there are some in the community that apparently are not satisfied with just the statements of the officers. Again this is clear misdirection on your part if you interpret our officers’ reports as evidence that nothing inappropriate occurred. This is insulting to everyone who has had the courage to step forward. A large part of our community (look around and point) are satisfied with the officer’s statements and are clearly supporting that we did our job properly and reported the facts. However, a large part of our community are not satisfied with the your actions or inactions and the inadequate investigation with the inadequate conclusions. For the last several council meetings, our citizens have come forward and demanded you conduct a formal outside investigation into this matter. You refused. Only after the police officers’ association issue the vote of no confidence did you suddenly think it was important enough to address this issue.
OPINION By VINCE JOHNSON
Hello, my name is Vince Johnson and I am a member and past president of the Arroyo Grande Police Officers’ Association.
Although it is inappropriate for our members to commence an administrative investigation into employee misconduct, we will attempt to provide some clarity.
In reference to policy violations:
It has been publicly claimed several times that there were no policy violations. We would like to briefly touch on this issue.
We will be referencing the most current policy manual dated 1995.
This is just one or two examples of policy violations that a real investigation should have uncovered and addressed:
The consumption of alcohol or being intoxicated in the work place either during or after work hours with a subordinate employee and using city hall as a sobering center with that subordinate employee as claimed by Mr Adams was dismissed as “just bad judgment.”
I think our community would agree that this is far more than bad judgment and amounts to misconduct as defined in Section 12 – Employee Responsibilities and Benefits, Subsection D, Behavior.
A summary of some of the policies:
Item 1. …conduct by an employee not connected with the employee’s official duties that brings a discredit to the city or affects the ability to perform the employee’s duties…
Not only is it clear that the initial incident has brought discredit to the city, but the subsequent actions and inactions in the days and weeks following the incident has brought discredit to the city.
How can anyone assert that the city manager’s ability to perform his duties has not been affected by this incident?
Under subsection F: Improper or unauthorized use of City vehicles or equipment…
A public building easily falls into this category and at the very least, to use city hall as a sobering center as described by Mr. Adams is clearly inappropriate.
Under Subsection L: Any action….that is a direct hindrance to the effective performance of City functions.
And we could continue, but I think the point has been made.
These were policy violations in 1995 and they are policy violations now.
The most concerning thing is how our city council and city management do not believe or admit these obvious policy violations occurred.
OPINION By MICHAEL SMILEY
Hello, my name is Michael Smiley and I am a member and past President of the Arroyo Grande Police Officers’ Association.
As police officers, we are taught from day one in the police academy that if you are dishonest you will be fired.
Again, some examples, but not a comprehensive list:
-Mr. Adams statements to the officer, when asked the whereabouts of Mrs. McClish. His response: Why would she be here? She was standing easily 10 feet away in his office behind his door, but he only admitted her presence to the officers when one of them walked past him and toward the office. Is this dishonest?
-How about the “missing” internal city hall security camera video footage that finally resurfaced last Friday, two and a half months later…one might construe that as dishonest.
-Or even something just as simple as the lights. When the officer’s arrived, they stated the lights in the building were off. This included the city manager’s office. In one of the statements made by the assistant city attorney, Mr. Adams stated the lights were on. Well…it seems to me someone is lying. Was it the officers or Mr. Adams? The answer was discovered when the “missing” internal city hall security camera video footage suddenly resurfaced.
We believe these dishonest statements and more would have been uncovered if anyone had been interested in discovering the truth.
Therefore the Arroyo Grande Police Officers’ Association still stands by our vote of no confidence.
The Arroyo Grande Police Officers’ Association intends to continue to pursue any and all available options to have an investigation into not only the initial incident, but the more concerning and now more important lack of appropriate investigation and hasty dismissal of obvious misconduct and dishonesty.
Thank you again to everyone who has supported our officers and our association during this incident that we did not create but are now being forced to deal with. Thank you.
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