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Officers outraged by orders to perform maintenance

October 24, 2001|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

CALIPATRIA — Police officers here are outraged by recent orders from the city to perform maintenance duties on the Police Department building and grounds.

Police officers, who have formed the Calipatria Police Officers' Association, did say they are considering legal action against the city.

Ontario-area attorney Bridget J. Wilson, who has been hired by the California Organization of Police and Sheriff's to represent the Calipatria police officers, said City Manager Romualdo Medina directed police to do the grounds work.

Calipatria Police Chief Reggie Gomez declined to comment as did Medina during a council meeting Tuesday.

However, Medina did say, "The POA came with some concerns that I feel was a misunderstanding and this will be addressed. I will get together with the chief to address this."

Wilson on Tuesday told the City Council that having police officers do grounds work was "an unfair labor practice."

Wilson said, "It seems to me pretty logical that it's a bad idea for the citizens of Calipatria to have their police officers doing gardening instead of being on call for public safety calls."

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She added, "It's so inappropriate. It is so profoundly insulting to reduce these officers to do work other people should do when the safety of the citizens of Calipatria is an issue here," she said.

She also said if the city continues to order officers to perform the maintenance work, officers will consider filling a lawsuit.

POA Treasurer and Police Officer Eric Granado said when he received his orders to do basic maintenance, "I didn't like it. I don't like it."

Initially, Granado said he though it was a joke.

"I had to confirm it with my chief that it was a directive," said Granado.

"I was insulted," he said.

There was no official action taken during the meeting on the police controversy.

During the meeting, the council did take action on other issues.

The council agreed to purchase a new street sweeper for $119,050 instead of refurbishing the existing one for $84,000.

The council also accepted a resolution that would allow the Police Department to request funding from a COPS grant program in the amount of $100,000.

In other action, the council gave permission to Medina to enter into a contract with Tenant Space Inc. of Brawley to perform renovations on the former City Hall building, 102 North Lake Road.

The building is currently used by the Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program, Steps of Success program.

It was leased by the city to IVROP. As part of the lease agreement, the city was to renovate the building.

Renovations will cost the city $233,658. The money will come from funds acquired through the lease agreement.

Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3435.

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