LONG BEACH — A veteran police captain who recently challenged the city in court after he was passed over for promotion has been named president of the Long Beach Police Officers Assn.
Douglas Drummond, a 27-year department veteran, was elected unanimously last week by the association's 11-member board.
Drummond, 48, will succeed Mike Kunst, the union's president since 1983. Kunst was unseated when he failed to win one of five open board seats in the 630-member association's general election.
The union, which has become an increasingly powerful political player at City Hall during the past decade, is to begin negotiations next month on a new contract with the city.
Large Vote Called Signal
Drummond said he saw his large vote in the general election and unanimous support from the association's board as a signal that the group's members "want to move on to improve relations" with police brass and city officials.
In the general election, Drummond received 416 votes, far more than any other candidate. Kunst, a sergeant, placed sixth in a field of 22 candidates with 219 votes.
Others elected were Sgt. Max Baxter, 293 votes; Sgt. Tim Chamberlain, the only incumbent reelected to the board, 285 votes; and Sgts. Mike Tracy, former president, and Terry Holland in a tie with 281 votes each.
Tracy, who resigned in 1983 after seven years at the post, has maintained the union needs to take a more "pro-active" tack in its dealings with department brass.
Drummond, meanwhile, had promised to make diplomacy a hallmark of his leadership. Despite differences in their style, Tracy would be "a strong addition to our board" because of his experience and stressed that the union's leadership is "standing together."
Drummond also commended Kunst for his efforts to foster a good relationship with city leaders, saying the former association president had helped to create "a great bridge from our past errors to the present day."
Drummond said he is not shy about challenging City Hall.
Along with two other captains, Drummond sued the department after being bypassed for promotion when the rank of commander was created in an effort by the city to phase out captains. The three captains contended that by creating commanders, a post filled by the chief through appointment, the department had illegally circumvented the Civil Service merit testing process.
In April, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge criticized the city for failing to discuss with union officials its intention to eliminate the rank of captain, but did not award Drummond or the others any restitution.
Praised by Chief
Despite that legal tussle, Drummond won praise from Chief Charles B. Ussery on Thursday.
"Doug will do a good job," Ussery said. "In doing so, he will help the whole department. There has to be a healthy relationship between the department and the Police Officers Assn., or else the effectiveness of both organizations will suffer."
Ussery, who broke into the department in the same police academy training class as Drummond, said his working relationship with the new union president would not be marred by the court battle.
"Doug is a professional person," Ussery said. "He clearly understands professional differences and is willing to work within the systems set up for the purpose of airing and settling professional differences."