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The Region

Charges of Police Sleeping on Duty Probed in Anaheim

Law enforcement: Four have been placed on leave as the department checks the allegations. Their colleagues have dubbed them the 'Graveyard Dream Team.'

September 21, 2002|STUART PFEIFER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Anaheim police have placed four officers on administrative leave as they investigate allegations that the four repeatedly slept on the job during graveyard shifts.

The officers were found sleeping in their police cars when they should have been on patrol, according to several law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation.

Sgt. Rick Martinez, chief spokesman for the 390-officer department, declined to comment. "We never talk about personnel investigations," he said.

But several sources said the officers are being investigated for a pattern of on-duty sleeping and also for possibly misleading supervisors in an effort to cover up their behavior. The probe began about three months ago, they said.

Rumors about the alleged on-duty sleeping have been rampant in the department, with some colleagues dubbing them the ''Graveyard Dream Team,'' sources said.

Sleeping on duty is considered a serious violation, but the discipline it merits is widely varied, police officials said. Los Angeles police, for example, suspended Officer Bama Steven Ford for 40 days in 1996 after determining that he slept on duty on two occasions and made misleading statements to an investigator, according to LAPD police records.

It's unclear whether the officers were reported by a member of the public or by someone within the department.

Police officials on Friday said they could make available the department's policy on sleeping on duty or provide a list of officers who are currently on administrative leave.

Greg Palmer, president of the Anaheim Police Assn., which represents officers in discipline hearings, also declined to discuss the investigation. Departments nationwide have been dealing with officers who sleep on the job--especially late-night and early-morning shifts when call volume is low.

Baltimore's police chief launched a crackdown last year that nabbed more than a dozen officers for sleeping on duty. The stings--led by internal affairs officers--resulted in several firings and other disciplinary action.

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Times staff writers Jack Leonard, Matt Lait and Kimi Yoshino contributed to this report.

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