Petaluma’s new police chief allegedly discouraged a female employee from cooperating with FBI agents who were investigating excessive force within the department and scolded her when he found out that she had spoken to them, according to an article in Friday’s Press Democrat.
When Desert Hot Springs Police Chief Pat Williams takes over the Petaluma Police Department on August 13, it will be amid allegations that he pressured an employee to not talk about harassment she faced in the department, according to the story. The employee, who says she was forced to retire, is now suing Desert Hot Springs for $5 million.
Last week, Petaluma Patch also reported that in February, the peace officers’ union in Desert Hot Springs, a Southern California town of about 28,000, , citing problems with the agency’s disciplinary process, lack of fairness in promotions and low morale.
But others have defended Williams, saying that he was instrumental in reducing the city’s crime rate and restoring residents’ confidence in the department.
In an email to Petaluma council members, Russell Betts, a Desert Hot Springs business owner and councilman said that Petaluma was “extremely fortunate” to be getting Williams, calling him “an excellent police chief.”
“Prior to the arrival of Chief Williams, when a resident’s car was stolen, the police would not show up to take a report for days,” Betts said. “Gangs that had infiltrated our city were having nightly shootouts, robbing businesses and turning safe streets into dangerous ones…Chief Williams corrected that…Our residents went from having a general disdain for our police department to literally giving our officers standing ovations at our city council meetings.”
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