GARDENA — City officials say they will not act on a request by the city's police union to remove Chief Richard K. Propster, who the union says lacks the ability to lead the department.
Mayor Donald L. Dear, responding to the request by the Gardena Police Benefit Assn., said employees with grievances should use the formal procedures set up by the city. He said the council referred the request to City Manager Kenneth Landau, who reviews employee grievances that are not resolved within city departments.
"If there are particular problems," Landau said, "I am more than willing to look at it on a case-by-case basis through the formal grievance procedure." Landau, who has been city manager since late March, said he has not received any formal grievances from the association.
The union's attorney, William J. Hadden, said the organization, which has about 70 members and is the bargaining unit for most sworn members of the Police Department, will receive "little or no productivity through the grievance procedure."
He said the organization chose not to use the formal grievance process because past grievances filed by police officers were been settled satisfactorily. "If the department shows a keen desire not to solve these problems, then it is futile to even try," he said.
"The chief's overall ability to lead this department is not something that can be taken through the grievance procedure," he added.
The organization wrote to the council in February about its concerns. In a response sent in June, the council told the union to use the grievance procedure. The union decided last month to make the letter public, Hadden said.
The letter accuses Propster and his administration of mismanagement, lack of leadership and destructive labor relations. It says the department is operating under a 20-year-old policies and procedures manual and says Propster failed to take disciplinary action against department supervisors when warranted. The statement also accuses Propster of not dealing with increased gang and drug activity in Gardena.
Propster denied the allegations and said he will not resign. He said the association has not formally filed any of its allegations with him, and he said he was not aware that the group was dissatisfied until he saw the letter soon after it was sent to the council.
A 19-year veteran of the force who has been chief for more than eight years, Propster said he did not know the motivation behind the allegations.