Six Whittier police officers are suing the city, saying they faced retaliation when they complained and refused to meet alleged ticket and arrest quotas.
Officers Jim Azpilicueta, Anthony Gonzalez, Mike Rosario, Nancy Ogle, Steve Johnson and Cpl. Joseph Rivera say they spoke out against the quotas, which they claim were imposed by the Whittier Police Department in 2008, according to a suit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The officers said their “careers have been materially and adversely affected, and irreparably harmed” by the city.
City Manager Jim Collier and Whittier police spokesman Officer John Scoggins declined to comment and said they had not seen the lawsuit.
“The lawsuit is unfortunate and the city will determine the best course of action once an analysis of the lawsuit is completed,” Collier said.
The officers say the alleged ticket and arrest quotas continue to this day.
The alleged retaliation started after the officers said they complained to their supervisors and the police department’s Internal Affairs Division, the suit claims.
After complaining about quotas, the officers faced a series of disciplinary actions including counseling sessions, unwarranted transfers, increased scrutiny and disparaging comments, the lawsuit said.
Azpilicueta and Johnson were also placed on a supervisory review and performance improvement plan. Johnson was the subject of an internal affairs investigation and was eventually suspended, according to the lawsuit.
The officers said they “spoke out not only for the rights of themselves and their fellow officers, but also for the rights of the public by speaking out against what they believed to be an unlawful citation and arrest quota.”
Imposing arrest and ticket quotas on police officers violates California Vehicle Codes section 41600. The codes makes it illegal for any state or local agency to force officers to meet a certain number of citations or arrests for promotion or disciplinary purposes.
The arrests and citations may only be considered in evaluating an officer’s overall performances, including work safety, commendations, training, professional judgment, complaints and attendance.
The officers said their careers were not only harmed because they refused to meet quotas, but their health and well-being also suffered.
The damages, according to the lawsuit, have continued. They are seeking an unspecified amount damages.
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