Home > Uncategorized > Police Unions Cross Line While Bullying Public Officials – Reason.com

Police Unions Cross Line While Bullying Public Officials – Reason.com

September 7, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

California city officials typically spare police officers even modest reductions in the pay and pension packages that are a main source of local budget problems, even when the other alternatives are cuts in public services or even municipal bankruptcy.

The common explanation is politicians are afraid of the cop unions’ political muscle come election time. That is true, but disturbing behavior by operatives associated with the Costa Mesa police union paints a much darker picture of the fear such unions instill in local officials. The incident has statewide and even national implications.

Costa Mesa Councilman Jim Righeimer had finished speaking at a community meeting last Wednesday, and then headed to a pub owned by fellow councilman Gary Monahan. Righeimer drank two sodas and drove home. After arriving home, a Costa Mesa cop showed up at his door and asked him to step outside and take a sobriety test, which he passed.

That a police officer can ask for a sobriety test after you have returned home is troubling enough, but the details of the case are even more astonishing.

A private eye with connections to the law firm Lackie, Dammeier & McGill of Upland, Calif., which represents the Costa Mesa Police Officers Association and many others across the state, called 911  and reported Righeimer as a possible DUI, representing himself as a concerned citizen. The caller said  Righeimer stumbled out of the bar even though surveillance cameras show no such thing. “He’s just swerving all over the road,” the caller stated.

The private eye, Chris Lanzillo, a fired Riverside police officer who showed up at Righeimer’s house in a car without license plates, claims he was not on orders to follow Righeimer. The law firm also denied this but promptly removed Lanzillo’s name from its Web site.

The Costa Mesa union fired the firm, moments before a city press conference. But this backpedaling is not credible. The law firm brags publicly about its brass-knucked tactics, and its Web site features testimonials from unions thrilled by how its legal work brings city managers to their knees. There’s no sense believing anything said by a man whose claims in the police report are not even close to reality. The whole situation screams set up.

“What you have here is police associations and their law firms hiring private detectives to dig up dirt on elected officials that they can then use to extort them, embarrass them or worse in order to get the elected official to vote against the best interests of the city to protect themselves,” Righeimer told me. “That’s the definition of extortion.”

via Police Unions Cross Line While Bullying Public Officials – Reason.com.

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