The city of Los Angeles this week agreed to pay $ 30,000 each to four LAPD agents who alleged in state court that they were unfairly disciplined for participating in a “blue flu” protest action. ” last summer.
The four officers claimed they had legitimate reasons to call the sick over the weekend of July 4, when the Los Angeles Police Department alleged that hundreds of officers engaged in illegal labor action. by calling the sick en masse to send a political message. The officers alleged that the disciplinary measures they suffered were illegal and damaged their careers.
The payments came in four individual judgments against the city, which city lawyers accepted – along with the blame in the case – rather than going to trial for the claims.
Courtney McNicholas, a lawyer for officers Diego Aguilar, Ryan Putnam, Luis Rodarte and Meggan Stroup, said the judgments justified her clients and provided them with professional security for the future.
“If at any point it comes back to them – like, ‘Oh, I heard you were a creep blue,’ things like that, which can happen – they might say, ‘Wrong. I was right. I have judgment, ”McNicholas said.
Captain Stacy Spell, a spokesperson for the LAPD, declined to comment on the judgments on Thursday.
The four officers filed their complaints after the LAPD decided to sanction hundreds of officers who declared themselves ill on the weekend of July 4.
The unusually high number of appeals, which came during a weekend of heightened gun violence in the city, followed weeks of protests against police brutality, a city council decision to cut the LAPD budget and the distribution of an anonymous letter calling on agents to call patients to defend their interests.
“They managed to define the police; what do you think is next? Our salary? Our advantages? Our retreats? You’re right, all of these things are in danger now, ”read the letter, which was obtained by The Times. “We have to send the city a clear message that we are not consumable and that we are not going to take this shit anymore.”
In some anti-gang units, many officers immediately took sick, sources told The Times.
Such orchestrated union action would be illegal, LAPD officials said, and Chief Michel Moore said the department was taking it seriously and launching an investigation into the matter.
Matthew McNicholas, another attorney for the four officers, said the department has filed “action measures” against anyone who has declared themselves ill regardless of individual reasons or diagnoses justifying the absences.
“I think the chef was upset, and he did,” McNicholas said. “It’s a bad, bad decision.”
Such action items are linked to various misconduct databases within the LAPD and can follow an officer throughout their career, preventing promotions and in some cases even resulting in demotions and loss of earnings. McNicholas said.
The way the decision affected the officers varied, but some suffered severe repercussions.
In one example, Rodarte – who had informed his direct supervisor that he had to take off to care for his ailing daughter – was removed from a coveted gang-fighting post and reassigned to a patrol after being accused of be a rookie, according to his complaint.
McNicholas said the department later reversed its decision to universally penalize everyone who called this weekend, by removing action items from their records. He said he believed this was done partly because of objections from the police union, but also because the prosecution of the four police officers proved that the discipline was wrong and illegal.
The department, he said, “throws in a net that was good, good, way too big.”