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Police Group Backs Inquiry

November 03, 1988

For the past several weeks, the Claremont Police Officers Assn. has remained virtually silent during the investigation of Police Chief Dexter Atkinson. The only public statement issued by the association has been acknowledgement of a vote of "no confidence" designed to show our concern over the issues unver investigation and our overwhelming disapproval of Atkinson's actions. Although we still believe that a discussion of any specific issues would be counterproductive to the investigation, we feel some further comment is necessary at this time.

We would first like to express our strongest support for the actions of the City Council and staff, City Manager Glenn Southard, in particular. As we have a somewhat broader view of the issues involved than the public, we believe that Southard has taken the only reasonable course of action.

With regard to statements about Officer Rick Garcia made by the Rev. George Crites, we would like to offer some clarification. Lawsuits against police officers are a common aspect of a law enforcement career. Even Atkinson has experienced this throughout his career.

With Officer Garcia's permission, we would like to provide the following comments from his last performance evaluation, as written by Atkinson: "Rick is a fine young man and a very dedicated police officer. I look for good things in his future as a police officer for the city of Claremont." Garcia's surprising termination occurred only three months after the comments written by Atkinson.

The investigation by the city manager is not an option, but a necessity. Each of us in this community must feel confidence in the police who protect us. To that end, the police must occasionally police themselves. That process began when police employees brought concerns about Atkinson to Glenn Southard. These concerns included ethical questions, mismanagement, unreasonable personnel tactics and possible criminal conduct.

That process must be completed for a fair evaluation of the concerns to be made. Even a simple investigation can take considerable time to complete. Although frustrating, procedures as complex and important as this one take more time than we might like.

PAUL DAVENPORT

President

Claremont Police Officers Assn.

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