Bishop Police Department Chief Chris Carter issued a response Monday to the “Letter of No Confidence” signed by seven Bishop police officers.
First, I’ll begin by asking the media outlets to print or broadcast this entire statement, just as they did with the letter filed by the officers.
Secondly, I want to take time to thank all of those people who have called, texted or otherwise offered their support. Especially those who have spoken out in my defense at a time when I was unable to speak or defend myself.
I’m going to address the letter filed by seven members of the Bishop Police Dept on Thursday 17th of Sept. It is my understanding there will be an official investigation, as there well should be, and I welcome it because I know what the truths of these allegations are.
I assure you that while some of what has been said is true, the whole truth is not contained anywhere in their letter.
I have been advised that because some of these allegations might amount to misconduct or even criminal conduct, I’m not obliged to make any statement and should not proceed without legal counsel. While I recognize the validity of this advice, I cannot and will not remain silent on this issue.
I would like the citizens of Bishop and any others who are concerned to take into account a couple of things: one being that I announced my retirement in July. These officers have had two months in the interim to go public with their complaints and concerns, and yet they chose to make these allegations on the day I left on a scheduled vacation and two weeks prior to my official retirement date. This isn’t a coincidence.
Their goal has nothing to do with bettering the Department or exposing corruption. I believe this letter is a smear campaign, plain and simple.
Here are some facts that were conveniently omitted from their letter:
1.This letter was signed by seven people, but authored by a single individual. Each of these individuals may have their own personal axes to grind based on our common history as subordinate and supervisor. This letter is not a correspondence from the Police Officers Association (union). There was not meeting held or vote taken, even though two of the people who signed this letter act as the President and Vice-President of the Union.
2. Five of the officers who signed this letter recently participated in a promotional process for a single Sergeant vacancy. The process was discussed and agreed upon by all eligible applicants, including these five officers. This process included evaluation of their experience, training and accomplishments by persons from outside the Bishop PD. Only one of them scored in the top 3, and ironically, he was one of the people who I recently appointed as an Acting Sergeant.
3. There is a Memorandum of Understanding (contract) between the Police Officers Association and the City of Bishop. This is a public document and copies are available at the PD. The M.O.U. is an agreement between the Officers/Employees and the City.
This document spells out the rights of Management and gives the Chief of Police the authority to oversee operations of the Department, including scheduling. The MOU also outlines a grievance process by which Officers/Employees can express concerns over working conditions, like those outlined in the letter, through the Chain of Command.
This process allows appeal to the City Council, should an aggrieved employee be unable to settle their grievance at a lower level. Two of the signatures on the letter of no confidence also appear on the MOU. In the 5 years I have been Chief of Police, not a single grievance has been filed by anyone whose name and signature appears on the letter.
4. An internal notice of training regarding Range qualifications was sent out on August 22, 2015, to all sworn personnel, scheduling a Range Training for September 23rd. I’m aware we’re out of policy for our training and the issue was being addressed. This is yet another example of omission of facts in order to avoid presenting the whole truth.
I had been contemplating retirement since 2013. In light of the budgetary issues and other concerns facing the Department and the City of Bishop, I was hoping to help see the Department through and leave it in a better condition than when I took over as Chief in 2010.
The most recent discussions regarding contracting services with the Sheriff’s Department furthered my resolve to try and preserve the continued delivery of professional service to the citizens of Bishop by their own Police Department.
Over the past year, the Department became divided from within. Some of that division was caused by events as outlined in the officers’ letter. While Dan Nolan was, and still is, one of my most trusted friends, I can assure you that I handled that incident appropriately and professionally.
An outside investigator was called in to conduct the investigation. The City’s legal counsel was advised and kept appraised throughout the process and the proper discipline was administered.
Unfortunately, trust within the Agency was damaged. I’m likely responsible for some of that damage because I refused to let Dan’s mistake be the last word in an otherwise stellar career and I also refused to turn my back on him as a friend, as some of these officers suggested was an appropriate response. I offer no apologies for being or having a loyal friend.
The City and the Police Officers Association entered contract negotiations in the spring of this year. During that process, our available personnel was at an all time low and our overtime budget had soared as a result of having several officers off due to work related injuries and recovery.
In speaking with representatives of the union, a conversation took place in my office where the union reps informed me that I could not change the schedule from 12 hour shifts to 8 hour shifts. This is where one of the famous quotes in the letter came from.
Unfortunately, the letter misquotes me. I never used the word “redneck” in expressing my disagreement with the union. The word I used was “Rebel”, and I stand by the statement. When the Officers start dictating to me what hours and shifts they will or won’t work, that’s the “tail wagging the dog” and it ain’t happening on my watch.
Over the course of the summer, when we were suffering a severe manpower shortage, several of those who signed this letter were up for their scheduled vacations. While I could have cancelled or shortened any or all of them, I chose instead to put myself in the patrol schedule.
My badge still says “Police” on it and I’m still capable of doing the job. I handled calls, wrote reports and cancelled my own personal plans so they would not have to cancel theirs.
One of the officers who signed this letter jokingly asked me why I wasn’t signing up for any graveyard shifts and to that I replied, “It’s good to be the King.” Guess that makes me a bully.
Other quotes attributed to me are fairly accurate, however out of context they might be.
I have no tolerance for those who still think this is a little league game. Not everybody gets a trophy (or promotion) for just showing up. We keep score here in the majors and I run a performance based system. I do play favorites. My favorites are those people who consistently give 111% and who solve problems and don’t whine about having to do their job.
If you want a regular schedule with predictable hours and demands, K-mart is hiring. If you don’t like this job, there really are 5 doors in the building, pick one and I’ll help you pack. I respect professional attitudes and conduct.
I will offer the opinion that for these officers to address their concerns in this manner is absolutely unprofessional and it might go a long way to explaining why none of them got a trophy. Any claim that officers are afraid of retaliation is nothing but an excuse.
In my tenure as chief, 5 of these officers have not received as much as a counseling memo from me or directed by me. I have occasionally gotten my facts wrong in a letter of commendation here and there.
The fact is that 6 months ago, I determined that the damage done to the trust within the agency was irreparable and that new leadership was likely the best course. I announced my retirement to the Officers at a meeting in early July.
The same meeting where we discussed the promotional process and also that we would be seeking to fill the Lieutenant’s position. I informed the Officers of the reasons for my decision and that I was hopeful that new leadership would improve morale and “right the ship” internally.
At this time, the Association had refused to sign their contract with the City. At the next City Council meeting, I publicly announced my retirement and the Association signed their contract with no changes shortly thereafter.
What I also made clear is that until I’m gone, I’m still here and I’m still the Chief and we will continue to handle business as we’re paid and expected to do. This includes internal promotions, recruitment of personnel and the maintenance of order and discipline within the Department.
There are many other allegations in the letter that will prove to be completely false, especially those that would call into question the integrity or character of Jim Tatum, Joe Pecsi and any other member of the Bishop Police Department.
There is no conspiracy, no misconduct and no excuse for these Officers to attack others in their attempt to tarnish my reputation or my history of service to this Community. They can offer no proof of the validity of their claims but I can offer absolute proof of my innocence and that of others they have attacked.
In closing, I offer the following; I have done nothing illegal, unethical or immoral as your Chief of Police. I continue to serve at the pleasure of the City Council and will continue to do so while my replacement is sought.
Should the Council choose other options, it has been my honor to serve them and this Community for the past 12 years and I assure you that the men and women of the Bishop Police Department are still serving and protecting to the best of their ability.
To the officers who sent this letter, should the Council decide to retain my services as Chief of Police, I will continue to do my job. There is still an obligation that each of you do yours, remain professional in your dealings with the Community and each other and let any investigation run its course.
This will be my only response to the media on this issue. I will let the findings of the investigation serve as my next response.
Chief C. Carter