Irvine Police Chief Charles S. Brobeck said Wednesday that he had invited federal and local law enforcement officials to investigate allegations of sexual discrimination and intimidation of Police Department employees who sought to report irregularities in the workplace.
"We have nothing to hide here. We feel very good about our Police Department," said Brobeck, adding that he and his staff believe that an outside investigation could also help alert them to any flaws in the department that they might have overlooked.
"I am more than willing to let an outside organization look into this, and if there are some other areas that need correction, then I want to know about it," Brobeck said.
Brobeck, who became police chief in January, said he felt it was necessary that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission thoroughly investigate any complaints of sexual discrimination leveled against the Irvine Police Department.
Brobeck said that he had expressed those views in a letter to the EEOC's office in San Diego, and had also sent a letter to the Orange County district attorney's office, saying he welcomed an investigation into allegations of witness intimidation brought forward by two female employees.
"I asked the D.A. just to look at the allegation of intimidation of witnesses. The concern I have is that intimidation of witnesses is a criminal matter," Brobeck said.
Last week, it was revealed that five current or former female employees of the Irvine department had filed complaints alleging sexual discrimination on the job.
Officer Shari Lohman claimed that she was being unfairly forced to take a disability retirement for a work-related back injury. Officer Abby Taylor said she was being denied a bulletproof vest that each of her male counterparts had been issued.
According to her attorney, Lohman claims to have been terminated because she complained to a sergeant about sexual remarks made to her by a male co-worker.
Brobeck acknowledged that workplace conditions for women needed improvement when he became chief earlier this year.
"When I first began working here, I found there were some areas that needed working on, such as having more women working in the department, and giving the women more opportunity to come into the supervisory ranks," Brobeck said, adding that he thought corrective steps had been taken.
EEOC officials in San Diego would not comment on the cases, and said that all information regarding the investigations is confidential.