The generally understood “code” among those in law enforcement contends that any issues should be handled internally, and kept beyond the knowledge of the public or media. However, there are times where members of the force find this untenable, especially in the instances of abuse of power and corruption. A recent article describes a situation where a California police officer was forced to retire in retaliation for bringing an embezzlement scheme to light within her department.
According to a pending claim, a San Francisco police officer became the vice president of a publicly-funded police organization in 2014. She soon became aware of issues within the group’s finances, and further realized that a specific officer had embezzled $15,000 from the fund. When she reported this discrepancy to the other board members, she was advised to handle the issue internally. However, she elected to alert the Internal Affairs Department.
After the alert, however, it became obvious to the claimant that Internal Affairs was not going to pursue charges against the officer who embezzled the money. She then anonymously told the story to a local television station in February 2015. During the ensuing months, one officer retired following allegations that he had covered up the crime. In addition, the alleged embezzler was extradited from Texas and charged with grand theft in October 2015.
In early 2016, the claimant was told by a member of the San Francisco Police Officers Association that the San Francisco Police Chief wanted to terminate her because she went to the press. She was also informed that if she retired, she could keep her benefits and retirement. Feeling pressured, she retired in March 2016.
Those in California who have experienced similar retaliation and/or wrongful termination by their employers could benefit in consulting an attorney to discuss possible legal resolutions. In many cases, civil claims can be filed against employers for unfair and/or illegal business practices. Attorneys who are experienced in employment law can discuss the legal recourse available to those facing such difficult circumstances.
Source: The San Francisco Examiner, “SFPD whistleblower claims Chief Suhr forced her to retire“, Jonah Owen Lamb, May 18, 2016