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Police Call for Chief's Removal in San Gabriel

February 04, 1988|EDMUND NEWTON | Times Staff Writer

SAN GABRIEL — An association of rank-and-file police officers has called for the removal of Police Chief Don Tutich, charging that after 12 years of his leadership the department is ineffective, antiquated and of questionable value to citizens.

The San Gabriel Police Officers' Assn., which represents the department's 30 non-management police officers, two weeks ago unanimously voted "no confidence" in the chief.

Tutich would not comment on the allegations, raised at a press conference before Tuesday's City Council meeting. But Mayor Janis Cohen said in a statement that Tutich has the "total support" of the City Council.

The association charged that the chief's "restrictive and antiquated" policies have resulted in a department with no Asian officers, although San Gabriel's population is about one-third Asian.

Parsimonious Course

The officers said Tutich has charted a needlessly parsimonious course for the department, refusing to apply for federal or state block grants or to participate in multiagency task forces. In one instance, the officers said, Tutich passed up a possible $600,000 cut for the city from funds seized in a multiagency drug raid.

They also said that under Tutich's supervision, 911 emergency telephone lines have often been left unanswered and prisoners left unsupervised.

Low morale because of Tutich's lack of leadership has resulted in a 160% turnover in the department in the past seven years, the officers added.

Cohen said in her statement that Tutich has a reputation for running a clean department, "some say squeaky clean." She added: "His reputation as a police chief is outstanding, and his entire record during 30 years in law enforcement is unblemished."

Political Motive Suggested

One city councilman suggested that the allegations represented the opening salvo of the city's election campaign. Three council members are up for reelection in April in what promises to be a rancorous campaign.

Citizens for Responsible Development, a grass-roots group that is fielding its own slate of candidates, has heatedly challenged city development policies, frequently turning council meetings into a forum for fiery speeches.

"We know how you've brought this city into an uproar," said Councilman Sabino Cici at Tuesday's meeting, charging that the citizens group had orchestrated the allegations against Tutich. "You guys have been running for election a whole year."

Greg O'Sullivan, chairman of the citizens group, denied that it had prompted the police allegations.

Cohen said that the Police Department has received state crime prevention grants and that it has always cooperated with drug enforcement agencies. She said the chief had no knowledge of any refusal to cooperate with an investigation that would have netted funds for the city.

"This department has been in the forefront of youth services," Cohen said. "It has been in the forefront of Asian task force relations and gaining confidence of the Asian business community by door-to-door contacts and putting a stop to extortion."

When the police officers' attorney, Sylvia Kellison, tried to read a statement at the council meeting, Cohen ruled her out of order. "This is not the proper forum for attacks on any of our city staff," Cohen said.

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