Two former Glendale police officers who were fired for allegedly taking a department-issued car on a joy ride to Las Vegas almost three years ago have been reinstated.
The Civil Service Commission voted 4-to-1 last week to give Fernando Salmeron and Mike Ullerich their jobs back after the pair, along with Officer Patrick Hamblin, were fired for the incident.
The officers were reinstated with a 90-day suspension and had to take a pay reduction, according to Garo Ghazarian, commission chair. He added that he would only comment about the commission’s actions, and declined to identify the officers, citing personnel issues.
Salmeron and Ullerich reportedly stopped working for the department on March 29, 2011.
A source close to the officers said they were gratified with the decision.
The decision comes nearly six months after Judge Luis Lavin in L.A. County Superior Court ordered the commission, which has quasi-judicial powers in personnel issues, to reconsider its earlier ruling upholding the firings of Salmeron and Ullerich while demoting Hamblin.
Commissioners reinstated Hamblin as a police officer in September 2011.
The commission’s decision came under fire by Lavin, who said it was inconsistent and contradicted its own decisions about the officers’ statements regarding the Vegas trip.
Hamblin, Salmeron and Ullerich drove a sergeant's car to Las Vegas on Dec. 27, 2010.
The officers were supposed to be working 10-hour shifts, but reportedly decided to pull off a prank by taking the trip in the department-issued vehicle.
According to court documents, Salmeron said he knew they would get in trouble, but “as far as what else would happen, I didn’t think about it.”
During their Vegas trip, a Nevada State trooper stopped the officers twice for speeding.
While in Vegas, the officers reportedly took photographs of themselves in front of the car and the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign.
At the time, their supervisor was trying to reach them, but they didn’t immediately return his calls.
Ullerich said in court documents that he, Salmeron and Hamblin later talked about needing to “come clean, tell [the sergeant] the truth and just take our lumps for doing the stupid thing.”
The incident was investigated, which resulted in the officers being fired.
The commission later reviewed the firings and decided to reinstate only Hamblin. However, city officials opposed the decision, preferring instead to let all three firings stand.
Retired Glendale Police Chief Ron De Pompa, who was head of the police department at the time of the incident, was at home when he got the call about the officers’ trip to Vegas, he said last week.
The officers’ actions, “broke his heart,” he said, because he never believed any Glendale officers “would be so reckless with our public trust.”