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Police Group Cites 'Double Standard' in Drug Case : Ruling on Laguna Coach Criticized

November 05, 1986|BOB SCHWARTZ | Times Staff Writer

The Laguna Beach Police Employees Assn. has sent an angry letter to Laguna Beach school board members criticizing them for a "double standard" on drugs.

The letter said the board's decision to allow Laguna Beach High School football coach Cedrick Hardman to continue to coach on a volunteer basis after being charged with possession of cocaine and resisting arrest "developed a double standard that will create real problems."

"What's going to happen the next time a student is found in possession of illegal drugs?" the letter asked. "What happens if another teacher is caught with illegal drugs? It appears that a winning season is more important to you than your prior stand against drugs. What happened to 'Say no to drugs?' "

A Municipal Court judge agreed last month to dismiss the felony charges against Hardman if he successfully completes a six-month drug rehabilitation program. The school board then voted to allow Hardman to coach during practices as a volunteer. It also approved giving back his job if he completes the drug program and the charges are resolved.

Association president Lance Ishmael, a Laguna Beach detective, said in the letter that two officers are still recovering from injuries caused by Hardman's "violent behavior."

Hardman had resisted arrest when officers stopped him Sept. 20 on Laguna Canyon Road and allegedly saw cocaine in his car. The efforts of three officers and a blast of tear gas spray were required to subdue and handcuff Hardman, a former football star with the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders. One of the officers, 5-foot, 1-inch Debbie Chang, missed a few days of work because of pulled shoulder muscles she suffered while trying to keep Hardman from getting back into his car, according to police.

District Supt. Dennis Smith said the district had received letters about the Hardman case from many individuals and organizations beside the police group.

"It's not something I wish to discuss publicly," Smith said. "I believe the police wanted to issue their opinion on that, and they've done it. . . . They differ with the opinion of the board, and they've registered that."

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