LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A jury awarded $2.5 million in damages to a Long Beach police officer who said he was subjected to retaliation after protesting how management responded to complaints by a recruit who did not want to be assigned to a high-crime area.
Lawrence Alexander said he once supervised a large group of officers and had his own office, computer and cell phone. He now is assigned to patrol, just as he was when he first joined the Long Beach Police Department 28 years ago.
“I dedicated my whole life to the Long Beach Police Department,” the 48-year-old Alexander said.
Alexander, who is a dues-paying member of the Long Beach Police Officers’ Association, said that even his union failed to help him in his case against the city.
Deputy Long Beach City Attorney Nicholas Masero said he and his staff will decide whether to appeal the verdict.
Alexander was a field training officer coordinator responsible for making sure the department complied with generally accepted Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) procedures.
According to Alexander’s lawsuit, a recruit reported for his first day of duty with the department in November 2015, then called a sergeant the next day to say he was too afraid to work in a high-crime area and would rather resign. A deputy chief directed the sergeant to offer the recruit an assignment in a safer area, but Alexander protested that the offer to the recruit violated the Peace Officer Standards and Training regulations.
The recruit accepted the offer, but the deputy chief later rescinded it and the recruit resigned, according to the lawsuit.
Alexander maintains he was summoned to the deputy chief’s office and told to go back to patrol or find another job. He alleges the department’s denial of a promotion in 2016 to a coveted position for which he was most qualified was done in further retaliation.
Alexander said the recruit was “man enough” to decide that being a police officer was not for him, but that management was concerned about the department’s attrition rate and the deputy chief’s reaction was to move him to another part of the city.
Both the deputy chief and the sergeant are now retired, Alexander said.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)