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Suspension of Inglewood Police Detective Overturned Entirely

Posted on Tuesday, November 01, 2016 at 12:00AM

ANDREW DAWSON
Partner
Dawson & Riley, LLP

Once again, Inglewood Police Department Chief Fronterotta and Captain DiBernardo have been overturned in a petty disciplinary suspension that should have never been pursued. A senior police detective was issued a 20-hour suspension for accidentally sending an email to a victim, which the Department alleged was discourteous and conduct unbecoming of an officer. The detective had no prior, similar acts of misconduct. However, the City of Inglewood refused to reduce the discipline. With the assistance of Dawson & Riley, LLP, the detective was able to convince the arbitrator that this was clearly an accident with no intentional misconduct, and as such, the discipline should be overturned.
In October 2012, the detective was assigned to investigate a domestic violence complaint by a victim against her boyfriend (the “suspect”). During her investigation, the detective learned that the suspect had fled the country to Central America. In March 2013, the victim filed another complaint, this time with the LAPD, against her boyfriend for alleged kidnapping and rape. An LAPD detective was assigned to that investigation. When the LAPD detective discovered that there was an ongoing investigation by the Inglewood Police Department, she contacted the detective. From that point on, both detectives communicated with each other, in part because both departments were pursuing the suspect in Central America and would both be seeking foreign extradition, if and when he was found.
Early on in the investigation, the detective became concerned about the victim’s safety, so she petitioned the court to provide financial assistance to relocate the victim to a new location. Her request was granted. Over that period of time, both detectives reminded the victim not to contact or be in touch with the suspect.
On March 11, 2014, the detective learned from an email that the victim sent to the LAPD detective that the victim had unlocked her Facebook account. After the detective saw the email, she testified that she was upset and frustrated, because the victim had unblocked her Facebook account looking to see what her ex-boyfriend/the suspect was doing. The detective responded to the forwarded email from the LAPD detective and unknowingly also sent it to the victim wherein she said in sum, “Sure she moved on … no wonder she hooked up with this fool.”
When the victim saw the detective’s email, she emailed back, “Excuse me?” The detective, realizing what happened, immediately called the victim and apologized to her.
Shortly thereafter, the victim emailed the detective that she would be filing a complaint with her Department. The detective apologized again and explained to the victim why she was frustrated.
The arbitrator agreed with the detective’s counsel that just cause did not exist for a 20-hour suspension in this matter. This was an unintended mistake that the detective immediately apologized for and which occurred prior to the victim notifying that she would be filing a complaint. Per the arbitrator, this should have been handled with a simple nondisciplinary reminder to be more careful, and nothing more. Once again, the heavy-handed attempt by the Chief and his staff to discipline an employee was overturned, thanks to the law firm of Dawson & Riley, LLP and PORAC’s Legal Defense Fund. 
 

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