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Police Chief Under Fire on Promotions

May 23, 1991|RICK HOLGUIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The president of the Downey Police Officers Assn., which is trying to oust Police Chief D. Clayton Mayes, has accused the chief of unfairly denying him a promotion.

Sgt. Mike Hadley, union president and a strong critic of Mayes, contends that the chief purposely bypassed him in promoting eight other sergeants to the position of lieutenant during the past year. Hadley, a 25-year veteran, notes that he has more experience than some of the sergeants who were promoted. A grievance is pending.

Hadley and nine other candidates took the lieutenant's examination last year, and all were rated either "well qualified" or "qualified." But only Hadley and another sergeant were not promoted. Six of the candidates received the higher rating. Hadley and three others were rated "qualified."

Labor consultant Mark Reid, who represents Hadley, said he and his client "feel very definitely there was a manipulation of the process. The chief does not have a right to make a selection for discriminatory reasons . . . ."

The chief defended his promotions, but declined to comment specifically on Hadley's case because of the pending grievance.

"The eight people I have promoted to lieutenant were the people I thought were the best people," Mayes said. "They have been very effective at implementing management's policies."

Hadley has requested that the city release the complete scores of the 10 candidates who took the lieutenant's exam last year. The exam had four parts: a written test, an oral test, a review of the candidate's personnel file, and an assessment of the candidate's abilities by six superiors.

Downey police officials and other city administrators, as well as police administrators from outside the city, evaluated the candidates. Mayes and Downey Personnel Director Chris Birch gave the candidates a final rating, Birch said.

The city contends that the test scores are confidential personnel information and refuses to release them.

"There's been a determination by the city attorney's office that that is not public information," said City Manager Gerald M. Caton, who will decide the grievance.

Hadley also alleges that Mayes attempted to take punitive action against him previously. Hadley, who lives in Santa Ynez in Santa Barbara County, works four-day weeks as a patrol sergeant. He stays in a mobile home at a friend's house during the workweek, and spends his three days off with his family.

Last year, Mayes reassigned Hadley to supervise the department's anti-gang detail, a five-day-a-week assignment. Hadley was supposed to start his new assignment last December, but Mayes rescinded the transfer after Caton intervened.

Hadley met with Caton, who talked to Mayes about the assignment. "I had some sympathy (for Hadley)," Caton said. But "if the chief had wanted to stick to his guns, I would have backed him."

The chief denied that the assignment was punitive. He said the experience would have been good for Hadley, one of the few sergeants who had not worked a specialized assignment.

Mayes said he changed his mind after Hadley "convinced me it was an extreme hardship on him and he did not want that assignment."

Some city officials were angered at Mayes' attempt to reassign Hadley, which came at a time when relations between the chief and the police officers had deteriorated. But other city officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified, have accused Hadley of using his union position to wage a personal vendetta against the chief. Last month, the union called for the chief to be fired.

Hadley said the union's dissatisfaction with Mayes goes beyond his case.

Mayes, a longtime Downey resident and former Los Angeles Police Department captain, was appointed chief in December, 1989. His appointment was spearheaded by a friend, former Councilman Randall R. Barb. Resentment quickly grew among officers, who said local politics weighed too heavily in the appointment of the 49-year-old chief.

Hadley was elected president of the Police Officers Assn. in May, 1990. Last November, the Police Officers Assn. released the results of a membership survey that showed growing dissatisfaction with Mayes.

Officers faulted the chief for quickly promoting two friends of the former councilman from sergeant to lieutenant. They alleged that Mayes created an atmosphere of distrust among the rank and file as he built his administration.

The chief stood firm, denying charges of favoritism. He has said some officers are unhappy because they were not promoted.

Caton has met various times with both sides, trying to mend relations. But the dispute intensified last month when 86 of the city's 123 sworn officers voted "no confidence" in Mayes.

To step up the pressure, the Downey Police Officers Assn. also voted to forgo pay raises next year if Caton fired Mayes.

The contract negotiations are pending, but city officials already have rejected the offer. Mayor Roy L. Paul calls it "extortion," and said the disgruntled officers have provided no evidence of wrongdoing that would warrant dismissal.

The city has earmarked $5,000 for a retreat where Mayes and union leaders, including Hadley, would try to resolve their differences. But the parties must still agree on a mediator for the one- to two-day retreat, which will probably take place in July or August, Caton said.

The city manager added that Mayes' job is not negotiable.

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