Chief Johnson’s Pro Tem Fill-In Makes Debut In Upland As City Is Hit With Suit He Precipitated

A week after the departure of Brian Johnson as Upland police chief, the city has temporarily filled his vacant post with Douglas Millmore, who rose to the position of captain with Upland PD before departing in 1995 to become police chief in Murrieta.
Millmore’s rearrival comes as the city finds itself facing legal action growing out of his immediate predecessor’s stewardship of the department, including a lawsuit by the senior officer who was second-in-command under Johnson.
Somewhat long in the tooth at the age of 70, Millmore is nevertheless considered by city officials to be a good fit to lead the department for the interregnum while a new police chief is recruited. Millmore was sworn in on Monday, after the city council voted unanimously to install him as the interim police chief.
The department is seeking to simmer down in the aftermath of Johnson’s departure. The last year of Johnson’s two-and-a-half year run as chief was characterized by increasingly acrimonious relations between him and a good number of the force he led, including field officers and some the department’s command echelon.
Johnson had spent the first 26 years of his career with the Los Angeles Police Department, where he had risen to the position of captain and held the prestigious assignment of commander of the Pacific Division before he was tapped in March of 2015 to head the much smaller and parochial Upland Police Department. Johnson was the first Upland police chief who had not promoted from within the ranks since Eugene Mueller, who would later go on to become San Bernardino County sheriff, was persuaded to leave his position as a captain with the Pasadena Police Department to take on the position of top cop in Upland in 1941.
Johnson held stellar credentials – a master’s degree in behavioral science from California State University Dominguez Hills and diplomas from the West Point Leadership Program and the FBI National Academy. Nevertheless, he found himself out of step with the culture of the Upland department. His enforcement priorities clashed with the attitudes of a number of the department’s officers, both senior and junior. He sought to use the department and its code enforcement division to meet what he perceived to be the expectations of a majority of the city council in terms of keeping medical marijuana dispensaries from proliferating in the city, where by ordinance commercial marijuana ventures of any kind are prohibited. A majority of his men, however, felt such efforts were futile in an atmosphere of cannabis use liberalization throughout the State of California and the further backdrop of an accompanying unwillingness on the part of the district attorney’s office to press charges against dispensary owners and employees.
Other issues divided Johnson from his men, as well. During the 30 months he was chief, 28 policemen left the Upland department, only seven of whom were within or very near the standard age range for retirement among law enforcement officers.
It is hoped that Millmore, who worked his way up through the ranks at Upland PD a generation ago, will be perceived as a more accommodating figure than Johnson.
Though Millmore has worked in security-related assignments in the private sector, he has been away from law enforcement since 1998, when he retired at the age of 51 because of the onset of high blood pressure. He believes he can avoid the stress that was such a concern and health hazard for him two decades ago, and is intent on carrying out a review of the department’s management practices to better enable the incoming chief to meet the department’s needs. Millmore is to assist acting city manager Martin Thouvenell, who was himself Upland Police chief for 17 years, in recruiting the new chief.
In the meantime, former Upland Police Captain Anthony Yoakum, who was one of the 21 officers who departed the city as a result of the contretemps between Johnson and the officers he oversaw, has filed a lawsuit against Johnson and the city over the circumstances relating to his forced departure.
In the suit, filed November 3 in San Bernardino County Superior Court, Yoakum is represented by Brandi Harper and Joseph Bolander of the Riverside-based law firm of Castillo Harper. The complaint alleges “Constitutional and common law invasions of privacy” that “arise from his [i.e., Yoakum’s] confidential police officer personnel information being disclosed to third parties outside of the department.” The suit further alleges that Johnson made false statements abut Yoakum’s performance to other law enforcement agencies.
Yoakum was one of three captains with the department when Johnson was hired in 2015. Just prior to Johnson’s hiring, captain Ken Bonson had been the acting police chief. After Johnson was in place, Bonson remained with the department for roughly a year, but retired in 2016, at which point Yoakum, who was in charge of department operations, became second in command in the department. Johnson at some point became displeased with Yoakum’s performance.
According to the suit, “Defendant Chief Johnson proposed placing plaintiff Upland Police Captain Anthony Yoakum on a compulsory 90 day performance improvement contract based on false and pretextual allegations of poor work performance and misconduct on or about March 13. On or about March 23, 2017, plaintiff had a meeting to discuss this proposed performance improvement contract, at which time it was determined that it would be held in abeyance. The performance improvement contract conceived by defendant Johnson required plaintiff among other things to observe police captains from surrounding agencies. On or about March 23, 2017 during a meeting attended by chief Johnson, human resources [personnel] and plaintiff’s representative, plaintiff became informed that chief Johnson discussed information regarding his contract and other confidential peace officer personnel information with at least three chiefs of police from other police departments, including the Ontario Police Department, Chino Police Department and Pomona Police Department. Plaintiff is further informed and believes and thereon alleges that in addition to disclosing confidential and private information to these individuals, defendant Johnson also made false negative statements regarding plaintiff’s ability to perform the duties of police captain.”
The suit represents that the chiefs of police to whom Johnson revealed his private and confidential personnel information should not have been privy to what Johnson disclosed and were “not authorized for any reason to access his peace officer personnel information.” The suit holds that Yoakum did not consent to the release of his confidential information.
“Defendant Johnson provided plaintiff’s confidential personnel records to persons unconnected to the department in violation of Penal Code Section 832.7 and plaintiff’s right to privacy, as the same is protected by both the California and Federal Constitutions in addition to statute and common law,” the suit states. “There was no lawful or reasonable justification for the release of his confidential personnel information to persons employed outside the department. And plaintiff reasonably expected that no such disclosure would be made.” The suit states that “Johnson maliciously provided negative statements regarding plaintiff’s work performance and allegations of misconduct to the chiefs from surrounding departments.”
The suit maintains that Yoakum “had a right to be free from intrusion into his private affairs, which includes his confidential peace officer personnel information” and that “plaintiff has suffered and will continue to suffer severe physical and mental distress, humiliation, embarrassment, anxiety, loss of earnings, loss of other employment benefits, medical expenses, lack of professional opportunities and advancement and other general and special damages in an amount to be proven at trial. The conduct of defendant Johnson… as described herein was malicious fraudulent and/or oppressive and done with a willful and conscious disregard for plaintiff’s rights and for the deleterious consequences of defendants’ actions. Defendants and each of them and/or their agents or employees supervised, authorized, condoned and ratified the unlawful conduct of each other. Consequently, plaintiff is entitled to punitive damages against each of said defendants. Unless and until defendants’ unlawful policies and practices as alleged herein are enjoined and restrained by order of this court, defendants will continue to cause great and irreparable injury to plaintiff.”
Contained in the lawsuit is a suggestion that there were members of the department or city staff who had abetted Johnson in his activity, though they are not identified by name. The suit names the City of Upland, the Upland Police Department and Johnson along with “Does 1-10, inclusive.” Of those Does, the suit states, “Defendant Does 1 through 10, inclusive are not known or identified at this time. On information and belief, plaintiff alleges that each Doe is in some manner responsible for the wrongs alleged herein and that each such defendant advised, encouraged, participated in, ratified, directed or conspired to do the wrongful acts alleged herein. When the true names and capacities of said defendants become known, plaintiff will seek relief to amend this complaint to show their true identities in place of their fictitious names as Does 1 through 10.”
The city has not made nor filed a response to the complaint as of press time this week.
Mark Gutglueck

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