Huntington Park : New Police Chief Installed

Huntington Park Police Capt. Charles Plum, who served as interim police chief after the City Council fired former Chief Geano Contessotto last summer, retired Sunday. His replacement, who started Monday, is former UCLA Police Chief Patrick M. Connolly.

Plum, 60, of Sherman Oaks, was hired as a Huntington Park police officer in July, 1953, and rose through the ranks to become a captain in October, 1979. Plum's final months of service were touched by strife in the trouble-plagued department.

Contessotto fired Plum and Capt. Martin Simonoff last April for their part in initiating a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department investigation into alleged improprieties by a Huntington Park police officer. The captains did not first inform Contessotto of the allegations. No charges were filed in the case.

But Plum and Simonoff got their jobs back two months later in a settlement reached during a Civil Service Commission hearing on the firings. The dismissal of the captains split the ranks of the department.

Plum took over as interim police chief when the City Council suspended Contessotto last June and fired him in July.

Mayor Thomas E. Jackson said the council fired Contessotto to "return the city to its prior stability."

The city has been the target of numerous allegations that officers used excessive force and committed other improprieties. Two former officers were convicted last month of using an electric stun gun to extract a confession from a teen-age burglary suspect. And the district attorney's office is investigating the September death of a local man who had been taken into custody by Huntington Park officers.

Contessotto sued in federal court, alleging the city violated his civil rights because it did not provide him with a "meaningful hearing" to contest the July 24 firing. But a judge found that the City Council acted within its power and dismissed the lawsuit in November.

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