As most of you know, we filed a complaint back in March 2019, against our former Chief of Police Will Johnson, for the use of the N word. You also may recall we have been fighting the disparity between how officers are disciplined compared to supervisors.
We even address our concerns with the Arlington City Council & the City Manager, requesting an independent investigation into our Internal Affair Division, after a recent arbitration ruling that we believed helped our cause. In addition, we had requested a review of the City of Arlington Personnel Policy 201.11 A. Unbecoming Conduct and Conduct Prejudicial to Good Order so that it could possibly be changed or amended.
As you may recall, our complaint against Chief Johnson was not taken well by some. Other association leaders came out in support of Chief Johnson and even later posted claims that Chief Johnson was exonerated, which we now know is not true. Rather, his violation of COAP 201.11 was simply ignored.
Now we have new information that shows the level of disparity in discipline did not stop at the Chief level, but at the City Manager level.
Attached, you will find a copy of the City Manager's decision regarding our complaint, in which he cleared Chief Johnson of any policy violation. Our complaint was filed with the City Manager, Trey Yelverton, who in turn, assigned Deputy City Manager Gilbert Perales - Neighborhood Services - which includes the Police Department.
Through an unrelated case, we learned that Deputy City Manager Perales provided a report to City Manager Yelverton regarding our complaint in June of 2019 (attached). In the report, Deputy City Manager Perales, cited testimony from the previous arbitration case, using the testimony of City Attorney Sarah Martin and Chief Johnson’s own testimony to support his conclusion and his recommendations.
Deputy City Manager Perales report states “I find evidence could reasonably lead to the conclusion that Chief Johnson violated COPA 201.11.” and also states “I find his decision to quote a racial slur while accounting the elements of a hate crime was an act that had the potential to discredit him as the Chief of Arlington Police Department, which is a violation of City Policy.”
Deputy City Manager Perales made several recommendations regarding the complaint, with the first being, “a recommendation, to remain consistent with previous executive-level discipline, is a suspension (or vacation time in lieu of suspension)”. Perales also made the recommendation that, “The City Manager consider whether the language of COAP 201.11 should be revised in any way to better guide supervision and employees regarding the performance and conduct standard set by this policy.” We received an email from the City Manager in Jan. 2020 that, “a policy modification has not been made and is not planned”. (Email attached)
Some may ask why bring this out now when Chief Johnson is no longer with the department. Our response to that is simple. The discrepancy in accountability between officers and higher level supervision has plagued our department for too long. This unethical philosophy has been allowed to continue and without some type of considerable change in practice, our department will continue with its’ current culture. As we bring these concerns and/or complaints to the Arlington City Manager, we frequently face dismissal of these valid concerns, with leadership ignoring the issue in order to protect the reputation of those involved. Our association recognizes the importance of reputation. We would hope that our officers’ reputations were as important to our City Council as those of our leadership.
We wish to Thank Deputy City Manager Perales for at least attempting to hold Command Staff accountable, although his attempt fell on deaf ears.