Efforts by the local police officers’ union to oust Chief Don Pedersen took another turn this week, when Interim City Manager Lamont Ewell said he has informally investigated the five specific charges that the union recently leveled at the chief and determined that most of them have “very little merit.”
“And frankly,” Ewell told The Observer, “some of them have no merit at all.”
Ewell’s remarks came just days after the Culver City Police Officers’ Association announced that 86.5 percent of its membership—or 77 of the 89 sworn officers and sergeants that it represents—had cast a “no-confidence” vote in the chief’s ability to lead the department.
Only 10 union members voted to support Pedersen and two abstained, the POA said in a press release.
“This vote represents a last resort in the association’s attempts to deal with what many members consider Chief Pedersen’s lack of integrity, ineffective leadership, questionable honesty, and his apparent inability to make decisions that affect their safety, working conditions, and ability to protect the citizens of Culver City,” the statement said.
“Many officers believe that Chief Pedersen has no emotional attachment or loyalty to the department, its employees, or to the City of Culver City.”
The union’s press release cited five examples of what it says display Pedersen’s failure “to practice his own proclaimed elevated standards of transparency and accountability.”
Union officials claimed that Pedersen failed to report collision damage to his city-owned vehicle, that he interfered with the criminal investigation of the son of a former City Councilmember, and that he violated department policy by refusing to identify himself to a citizen when a search-warrant was being served.
It also alleged that the chief often doesn’t make important decisions in a timely manner, and has attempted to intimidate members of the Police Officers Association from participating in union activities. The full statement can be viewed at the POA’s internet web site, www.culvercitypolice.com.
“If any [rank-and-file] officer did some of this stuff, he or she would be disciplined and perhaps even fired,” said Adam Treanor, a Culver City police officer and President of the union.
Ewell, however, said he checked out each of the five charges and that “none of them rose to any level of concern.”
“The Chief isn’t trying to hide anything,” Ewell said. “The chief has my support, and the City Council has also gone on record with their support of him.”
So has the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs’ Association, a group that represents the heads of 45 different law-enforcement agencies across the area.
In a letter to Ewell dated July 27, the association’s four top executives wrote that “Chief Pedersen is known amongst his colleagues as a person of good character and a man of integrity … Don has consistently demonstrated good judgment, a low-key and friendly demeanor, and a collaborative approach to problem-solving.”
Union President Treanor disagrees.
“The morale at the Culver City Police Department is the most abysmal that I’ve ever seen in my 12 years here,” Treanor said. “Our department cannot function effectively with Don Pedersen as Chief of Police.”