Evidence lacking in Glendale police sergeant's demotion

Investigators failed to prove claims that a Glendale police sergeant pressured and harassed colleagues to join his federal discrimination lawsuit, according to findings released this week by a city commission.

The Civil Service Commission overturned the demotion of Police Sgt. Vahak Mardikian last week after commissioners found that investigators didn’t present sufficient evidence to support claims being made against him.

Those claims included the allegations that Mardikian lacked technical knowledge, failed to meet job performance standards, and pressured officers to join his federal discrimination lawsuit against the city.

In January 2012, Mardikian was demoted to the rank of officer.

He had been a sergeant overseeing burglary and auto theft investigations but was transferred in July 2010 due to disharmony in the unit, according to the findings.

Police officials claimed his transfer was based on performance issues. However, according to the commission’s findings, Mardikian consistently met or exceeded job performance standards.

He was moved to the department’s Field Services Division, where he was later the subject of an internal affairs investigation based on another officer’s alleged claims of feeling pressured by Mardikian to join his lawsuit and file grievances against the department.

Soon after that, Mardikian was placed on paid administrative leave.

But according to the findings, top police officials, as well as Asst. City Manager Yasmin Beers, testified that the city doesn’t have a policy that prohibits employees from encouraging colleagues to file grievances or lawsuits.

Beers added that employees are trained not to retaliate against employees who file grievances.

The officer later had a conversation with Capt. Mike Rock about his interactions with Mardikian.

According to the findings, Rock described the officer’s allegations in a memo, which prompted an investigation that ultimately led to Mardikian’s demotion.

During the commission hearings, the officer denied some of the allegations and testified that Rock misstated some of what was said in the conversation.

The commission also noted in its findings that the officer never said he felt “pressured” during his testimony.

City Attorney Michael Garcia said the city hasn’t decided whether to appeal the commission’s ruling.


Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.


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