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City to Appeal Bias Ruling Against Police

October 23, 1986|DENISE HAMILTON | Times Staff Writer

The Glendale City Council agreed unanimously Tuesday to appeal a federal court ruling that found the city discriminated against a Latino police officer by passing him over for promotion.

"There is no wrongdoing on the part of the city. . . . Our record shows that we don't discriminate," said Mayor Larry Zarian after a closed council session with the city attorney.

The council's action came in response to an order last week by U. S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian Jr. that Police Officer Ricardo L. Jauregui, 38, be immediately promoted to sergeant and given an estimated $8,000 in back pay at that rank, retroactive to February, 1985.

Promotion Delay Sought

Assistant City Atty. Scott Howard, who handled the case for the city, said Tuesday he will ask the judge for a postponement of the court-ordered promotion until the appeal is resolved. Howard estimated that the case has cost the city somewhat less than $1,000 in court fees so far and "many" hours of staff time, although he declined to estimate how much in salaries the case has cost.

In a strongly worded opinion, Tevrizian found that the Glendale Police Department acted "arbitrarily, capriciously and discriminatorily" in denying the promotion to Jauregui and giving it instead to an Anglo officer.

Tevrizian ordered Glendale to pay Jauregui's legal fees, which his attorney, David Alkire, said could total "tens of thousands of dollars." The judge also called for the city to investigate cartoons and flyers depicting blacks and Latinos in a derogatory manner that were circulated within the department.

As a result, the city has appointed members of the Police Department, the city manager's office and the city attorney's office to handle the investigation, and, Zarian said, he believes the tripartite force will do an adequate job.

"No outside investigation is necessary," said Zarian.

The Jauregui case stirred up strong emotions within the city and the Police Department. It prompted a rally last month by about 75 police and city employees, during which a black police officer representing the group repudiated the charges of discrimination leveled at the city.

But the case also revealed the existence of about 15 racial cartoons that Assistant City Atty. Howard labeled as "sick locker-room humor." Jauregui's attorney said they showed that racism was widespread in the department.

Cartoons 'In Bad Taste'

Zarian also expressed his disapproval of the cartoons. "Whether it's a joke or not, it is in bad taste," the mayor said.

The cartoons, which were introduced as evidence during the monthlong, non-jury trial, contained racial slurs against blacks and Latinos.

Two black officers testified that the cartoons, some of which were drawn by police officers, circulated within the department and were placed inside their lockers. One of those black officers testified that, at a 1980 party held at the house of a police officer, his colleagues burned a cross to "welcome" him.

Moreover, the two black officers alleged that Howard had suggested that they burn the flyers so they could not be used as evidence. Howard denied the allegations, calling them "malicious, false and untrue."

Jauregui, a 13-year veteran of the force, filed suit against the city in 1985 claiming that a less qualified Anglo was promoted because of the department's purported racism.

Candidates' Qualifications

Jauregui possesses a college degree, has lectured in law-enforcement classes and was at the top of the promotional list for sergeant five times since 1980. Randall Tampa, the man promoted instead of Jauregui, has been with the force for 10 years, works as a recruiter and participates in several officer-training programs. He does not have a college degree.

City and police officials maintained that Jauregui was passed over because he lacked "people skills." They produced a stream of police officers who testified that Jauregui would not make a good supervisor because he is rude, arrogant and abrasive.

Both Jauregui and Tampa have been suspended twice for misconduct and use of excessive force.

Of the 177 sworn officers on the force, there are four blacks, 15 Latinos and four women, according to city officials. There are no women or minorities at the rank of sergeant or above.

In an unrelated matter, Jauregui and his family are also suing the city for $12 million because of a December, 1984, incident in which his daughter was mauled by a police dog and required surgery for severe cuts. Jauregui, who was then assigned to the department's canine unit, was keeping the dog at his home and claims the city should have known that the dog was dangerous.

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