Reserve Officer Says He Was Fired For Blowing Whistle

A former law enforcement officer in Contra Costa County says his employment has been terminated because he stepped forward to protest unethical police department policies. The man, who blew the whistle on sheriff’s deputies who were conducting “dirty” DUI arrests, was fired earlier this month after 19 years as a reserve officer in the local sheriff’s unit.

A representative from the department said the matter was an internal affair, and reserve officers are at-will employees. Those workers may be dismissed without cause, according to police department officials, who say they will not discuss the case.

The man alleges that he was ostracized by his fellow workers after he cooperated with internal affairs investigators in 2011. He played a role in the indictment of a fellow officer who had been arresting people based on personal vendettas, not actual drunk driving charges. The man said his statement in the case was frowned upon, and he was seen as a troublemaker within the department for breaking the “police code of silence.”

The officer who had been charged with the misdeeds has since pleaded guilty to the charges, and he awaits sentencing on charges of conspiracy and additional drug charges.

According to department records, the whistleblower is a Navy veteran with a record of outstanding performance. As a reserve sheriff’s volunteer, he receives about $20,000 in per diem payment each year, and he is covered under the department’s benefits plan. The man joined the force after a career as a successful executive. He had developed colon cancer at that time, and he wanted to give back to his community.

The man has continually received the highest marks with regards to his job performance, which makes his termination even more suspect. It is not clear whether the man has formally filed a suit in connection with the termination of his employment. However, it appears that he would stand a good chance of at least regaining his employment position if he pursued civil action against the department.

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle, “Whistle-blower let go as reserve deputy,” Justin Berton, Aug. 17, 2012