Former police chief Randy Adams testifies that he strived to diversify the department

Former Glendale Police Chief Randy Adams testified Friday during a police lieutenant’s discrimination lawsuit that he was responsible for diversifying the department and had to discipline two officers, which he didn’t fire, for derogatory actions against Armenian-Americans.

Adams said he suspended one of the officers, who created a bogus 2008 internal memo with a doctored image of a patrol car covered in Armenian flags, for 100 hours without pay. The second officer was suspended for 300 hours for allegedly calling Armenian-Americans “parasites” and “frauds” on a YouTube blog.

While the officers were investigated and disciplined for their actions, both officers continued working for the Police Department.

“Police officers are human beings and all of us make mistakes from time to time,” Adams testified in U.S. District Court.

While Adams testified that he didn’t condone the memo, he said the officer was being sarcastic. What the second officer did, Adams said, was “inappropriate.”

Adams is a named defendant in Tigran Topadzhikyan’s federal lawsuit against the city and Police Department, alleging he suffered harassment, discrimination and was often passed over for promotions because he’s Armenian-American.

In 2010, Topadzhikyan jointly filed his lawsuit with fellow officers Vahak Mardikian, Robert Parseghian, John Balian and Benny Simonzad, who made similar allegations against the Police Department and city.

During the trial, Adams said Topadzhikyan was “an up-and-coming star in the department.”

Adams testified that he worked to change the department’s demographics by stepping up recruitment efforts in search of Armenian-American police officers. One of his responsibilities, he said, was to hire 60 officers due to a shortage and he sought to make sure some of the new hires had diverse backgrounds.

Adams said he helped develop a cultural-diversity training course and the Community Police Partnership Advisory Committee, which is comprised of about 25 members who represent several community organizations.

“I, too, believe the Police Department make-up should as much as possible reflect the make-up of the community,” he said.

In 2005, a report was created and showed an increase in staffing levels among Armenian-American officers in Glendale compared to Fresno, Montebello, Burbank and Pasadena, which also have significant Armenian-American populations.

But Topadzhikyan’s attorney, Carney Shegerian, probed Adams on whether the report accurately reflected the Armenian-American populations in those cities and whether the staffing increase in Glendale should be compared to them because they all have smaller Armenian-American populations than Glendale.

Adams also took the stand earlier this month in a corruption trial for Angela Spaccia, who is an ex-Bell official accused of multiple counts of misappropriating city funds.

Adams retired from Glendale police in 2009 and was offered a higher-paying position as the police chief for the smaller Bell Police Department.

Spaccia and former chief administrator Robert Rizzo, who pleaded no contest to corruption charges, hired Adams for the position, making him one of the highest-paid law enforcement officials in the country.

Testimony in Topadzhikyan’s trial is expected to continue Dec. 3 in U.S. District Court in Riverside.

-- Veronica Rocha,

Follow on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.


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