The suspended Los Angeles police sergeant at the center of a controversy over his access to Parker Center has been the subject of at least three internal investigations into domestic violence, two of them involving female LAPD officers.
Records also show that both female officers obtained restraining orders against Sgt. Howard Irvin, who surrendered last week on an arrest warrant prompted by an Aug. 6 meeting with Police Chief Bernard C. Parks at Parker Center. That meeting appeared to violate the most recent court order, which forbids the sergeant to visit the downtown police headquarters because an estranged girlfriend works there as a detective.
The case has caused controversy within the LAPD with some department insiders, including the ex-girlfriend, Det. Linda Compton, questioning whether Parks obstructed justice by seeking a delay in the serving of the arrest warrant. Compton complained about the incident when she learned, after the visit, that Irvin had been in Parker Center.
Police officials say that at the direction of Parks, they sought to halt immediate service of the warrant, believing an arrest would be unfair because Parks helped arrange the Parker Center meeting, in which Irvin sought to discuss his future with the LAPD. At the time, they said, neither Parks nor several top aides knew about the restraining order.
The disclosures about the multiple domestic violence incidents come amid conflicting accounts of whether the two bodies that oversee the LAPD's operations are examining the actions of Parks and the department.
Police Commission officials insisted Wednesday that they are not investigating the actions of Parks, who was out of town and unavailable for comment.
"Contrary to published reports . . . neither the Police Commission nor the inspector general's office have been investigating Chief Parks for any impropriety or misconduct regarding the matter of Sgt. Howard Irvin or otherwise," said Commission President Edith Perez, voicing support for Parks to reporters outside Parker Center. "The only action taken by the Police Commission was to ask the inspector general to help find certain facts regarding the Irvin matter."
But later Wednesday, Inspector General Katherine Mader indicated that she has not closed the books on the matter.
"Several individuals have contacted the office of the inspector general regarding the possible failure of department members to protect the interests of all employees in this matter," Mader said. "It is my duty to these complainants as well as to the integrity of the office of the inspector general to pursue the questions raised until they are satisfactorily answered."
Mader declined to elaborate on whether any specific individuals are under investigation.
Irvin's attorney, Monrow Mabon, said his client is not guilty of having violated the court order, a charge that could conceivably bring Irvin time in state prison.
Irvin already faces an LAPD hearing to review the criminal case, for which he faces possible termination.
Documents and interviews made available Wednesday show the Compton case is the third domestic abuse case involving Irvin in three years.
In December 1994, a female LAPD officer who had been dating the sergeant contacted Long Beach police about a 1992 assault that left her with a fractured neck, according to a police report. Although a criminal case was never filed because the statute of limitations had expired, the female officer did obtain a restraining order against Irvin and he was suspended by the LAPD for 25 days in October 1995.
In July 1996, records show, Irvin was accused of another domestic dispute, this one in San Diego. Although the woman in that case refused prosecution, Irvin currently faces an LAPD Board of Rights hearing that alleges 15 separate acts of misconduct, including placing the barrel of a handgun against the victim's head.
Then in September 1996, Det. Compton contacted the Los Alamitos Police Department about an alleged stalking threat by Irvin. After bailing out, records show, Irvin was rearrested in January and eventually pleaded guilty in Orange County to one felony count of stalking, one felony count of terrorist threats and two misdemeanor counts of violating a retraining order.
In July 1997, 10 days after a new restraining order was issued in that case, reports show, Irvin called Parks' office to request a meeting to "discuss his being relieved from duty and his future with the LAPD."
LAPD officials said this week that even though Irvin requested the meeting, Internal Affairs investigators were interested in speaking to him about an unrelated personnel matter.
"I think it is fairly common for an officer to try to meet with the chief of police. I think it is fairly common for us to invite employees in and interview them," Deputy Chief Martin H. Pomeroy told reporters Wednesday. "Matter of fact, that is the way we do business, that is the way we investigate matters."