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Officer Asks: Can Good Cop Excel in L.A.? : Police: Carl McGill won praise for his anti-gang work but faces suspension over charges he was disrespectful to his supervisor. He says he is being railroaded, an accusation his bosses deny.

September 29, 1990|RICHARD A. SERRANO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

He stayed home last Oct. 2, and his telephone records show he called his police station seven times that day. But the Police Department maintains that he never informed his supervisors that he was sick, as required under the department manual.

The next day he again stayed home. His phone records show another seven calls to the station. But, again, the department said he never notified superiors of his absence.

That day was also Election Day in Inglewood, and McGill's close friend, fellow officer Garland Hardeman, was running for the City Council. Capt. Tatreau said that since officials had heard nothing from McGill, they wondered if he wasn't actually out campaigning for Hardeman.

Tatreau and a sergeant went to McGill's home to investigate. McGill said he had left when a friend came by to drive him to the doctor's office. At home were his mother, LeJean Ware, and his stepbrother, Craig Ware.

The Wares said they refused to answer the door because the police supervisors did not identify themselves. Craig Ware said he watched from the window as the policemen approached McGill's 1970 green Cougar.

"I saw one of the officers use a Slim Jim (a locksmith's device) to get in my brother's car," Ware said. "He got in and took out some papers. Then they drove off."

McGill said his stepbrother told him that the police supervisors took some of the Hardeman campaign literature from the car to learn the address of the Hardeman campaign office and to search for McGill there. But Tatreau said he had already learned Hardeman's address from the Inglewood police chief earlier in the day, although he did not locate McGill that day.

"It didn't happen," Tatreau said of the alleged burglary. "Carl McGill is a liar. And Carl McGill knows he's a liar." Ware stands by his story.

A subsequent Internal Affairs Division investigation determined that no burglarly had taken place, and no administrative or criminal charges were brought against Tatreau. But McGill said the Police Department never fully investigated the incident. Eventually he angrily confronted Tatreau with the allegations.

"I was emotional, yes," McGill said, admitting that he shouted and screamed at Tatreau. "I lost my temper. I went off. I exploded."

He alleged that Tatreau, who is white, reacted by threatening him with a racial slur. But Tatreau denied making any slurs. "That's ridiculous and Carl knows it," the captain said.

Since then, McGill said, he has been transferred from CRASH and placed back on patrol. "I don't feel safe when I go to work anymore," he said. "They can set you up, and I feel like I can't trust the environment around there anymore."

Should he lose at the Board of Rights hearing, he said, he may consider resigning from the police force--a loss that some in his community said would be hard to bear.

"If he left the Police Department and did not pursue the kind of relationships he's now engaged in in the community, we'd be set back quite a way," said the Rev. McClinton. "It would most definitely be quite a loss."

McGill believes it is his work in the community, and the public attention that it garnered, that ultimately led to jealousy from some police adminstrators who felt he was stealing their spotlight.

"The department just doesn't like officers who do things on their own," McGill said. "They don't like officers who have their own ideas. And they really turned up the fire when they found out that I had these special interests."

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