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Colton's police chief put on leave

Ken Rulon's lawyer says the investigation targeting his client is just retaliation for whistle-blowing.

March 09, 2007|Sara Lin | Times Staff Writer

Colton city officials this week placed the police chief on administrative leave, saying the action was the result of a five-month investigation into accusations that he created a hostile work environment and abused his position.

The chief, Ken Rulon, was escorted out of police headquarters and ordered to turn in his badge and gun Tuesday afternoon.

Rulon's lawyer, Bradley Gage, said his client was being punished for reporting a councilman's alleged wrongdoing to prosecutors in the summer.

The chief's suspension comes eight months after he reported that the councilman, Ramon M. "Ramie" Hernandez, allegedly charged thousands of dollars to the city for motel rooms and calls to phone-sex hotlines.

Two months later, prosecutors charged Hernandez with 24 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds. Hernandez, who has since lost reelection, pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

The district attorney's office also looked into possible misconduct by other city officials, but no charges were filed. Deputy Dist. Atty. Frank Vanella said he closed the investigation several months ago.

Rulon's attorney said his client was being targeted because he was a "whistle-blower."

"He tried to do the right thing, and now he's being retaliated against for it," said Gage, who added that his client planned to sue the city in the next few weeks.

City Manager Daryl Parrish called Rulon a "valued member of the Police Department" and said being put on leave was not retaliation for reporting the allegations to prosecutors.

"It's complete nonsense. That is not what's going on," he said.

Parrish said the city hired an outside investigator in October to look into complaints made in several anonymous letters to the city that Rulon had failed to promote qualified Latino officers, imposed arrest quotas and went shopping for personal items while on duty.

Rulon, 43, came to Colton in 2003 after a 16-year career with the Huntington Park Police Department.

Rulon's being put on leave is the latest setback for scandal-plagued Colton, where four City Council members have pleaded guilty to accepting bribes in exchange for their support of development deals in the city.

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sara.lin@latimes.com

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