CLAREMONT — A union representing the Police Department's 34 non-supervisory officers has formally expressed "no confidence" in beleaguered Police Chief Dexter Atkinson.
The Claremont Police Officers Assn. voted 24 to 2, with six members absent and two abstaining, in support of a statement that Atkinson was "not able to efficiently administrate" the department because of "unfair treatment of some employees, poor ethics and poor management."
Atkinson, who was not available for comment, allegedly allowed a man convicted of drunk driving to help with remodeling work at the police station in lieu of serving jail time.
As a result, City Manager Glenn Southard placed the chief on administrative leave earlier this month pending an investigation by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.
Factor in Vote
Agent Paul Davenport, president of the Police Officers Assn., said the allegation that led to Atkinson's removal from duty "was certainly one of the factors involving our belief in his poor ethics."
Davenport said there were other incidents that reflected the police chief's ethics, but he refused to say what they were. He also refused to explain the "unfair treatment" mentioned in the statement.
The vote, taken Tuesday night, was not intended as a demand for Southard to fire the police chief, Davenport said.
"It was intended to let the community and City Council know the mood of how our members felt about his abilities and (to have) the community become aware that we do have concerns about Chief Atkinson," Davenport said.
Southard said the association's vote would not affect the investigation into allegations against Atkinson. However, he said he would accord some weight to the officers' sentiments.
"In a general sense, it's always important to know how the employees feel, but it's only one factor and not the most important one at this point," Southard said.
Atkinson is alleged to have violated a court order requiring that John Barber, 43, serve 120 days in jail for his third drunk-driving conviction, as mandated by state law.
The judge granted Barber's request to serve his time at the Claremont jail instead of County Jail. Barber said he instead performed 180 days of community service, using his skills as a general contractor to design renovation projects at the police station.
Because he apparently did not serve his assigned sentence, Barber is due in Pomona Municipal Court Aug. 31 to face charges of probation violation.
Barber said he believed his community service had satisfied his sentence. If the court does not agree, he will be required to serve the 120 days in jail.