Moving to streamline a campus police force that had become a nest of worker discontent, UCLA has laid off all five lieutenants in the 55-member department and eliminated three other management jobs.
Newly appointed Police Chief Clarence Chapman, under orders to trim 11% of his department's $9.5-million budget as part of university-wide reductions, described the layoffs as unavoidable and unrelated to a rash of grievances and lawsuits filed by department workers in recent years.
The reorganization "was strictly for economic reasons," said Chapman, who became chief June 1.
The cuts are expected to save at least $499,000 without reducing campus patrols or other services, university officials said. More cuts are possible, said June Trader, assistant to Chapman.
One of the departing lieutenants, Michael Shain, is named as a co-defendant in six lawsuits by former and current police officers, most of them minorities, alleging they were subjected to discriminatory treatment by their superiors and that university officials failed to take corrective action. UCLA has declined to comment on the litigation.
Chapman, however, strongly denied that the legal skirmishing influenced the way the department was reorganized.
He praised all five lieutenants, stressing that none "were under investigation" or "the subject of any negative performance evaluations." The problem, he said, was that the department had become top-heavy with 13 administrators, including the five lieutenants--half of the lieutenants in the entire University of California system.
Attempts to reach the lieutenants--Shain, Terry Baker, Jim Kuehn, Dave Peitz and Don Boyarski and Shain--were unsuccessful.
Three non-sworn employees were also laid off: Kit Espinoza, director of administrative services; Donna Capraro, assistant director of administrative services, and Dave Camonero, budget director.
Chapman, who won kudos for his work as a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department captain in West Hollywood, has vowed to focus on improving communication within the UCLA Police Department, upgrading equipment and assuring that officers have access to up-to-date training, which has lagged in past years.
With the departure of the lieutenants, management duties will be consolidated under three captains, one of whom is Karl Ross, who served as acting police chief until Chapman's appointment. UCLA officers, bridling under what they described as outdated leadership, directed a vote of no confidence against Ross earlier this year.
The vote persuaded administrative Vice Chancellor John Curry, who oversees the department, to hire an outside consultant to survey the department and recommend changes. Curry could not be reached for comment, but in a university press release he predicted the reorganization would lead to a more efficiently run department that would ultimately provide greater security despite the staff cuts. He emphasized that no officers working beats were let go.
The reorganization was greeted with guarded optimism by one of the litigants, Sgt. Rick Sanchez, who called it an important first step to improving the beleaguered force.
"Morale in the department seems to be going up," Sanchez said. "The problem is we're still in the baby stage."