Police Chief’s Exemplary Guidance Merited Praise Rather Than Rebuke, Garcia Says

Three months after a controversial move by Upland’s mayor and city manager to abruptly suspend Police Chief Darren Goodman followed by his equally sudden reinstatement, Upland City Council Candidate Carlos Garcia offered his perspective on the performance of the department under Goodman’s watch.
In doing so, Garcia sounded a note of caution to the council, pointing out that city officials need to carefully consider the full implication of their actions. He said the council should not seek to transfer blame for difficulties in the city’s ongoing operations to an overburdened staff which has been saddled with overwhelming assignments exacerbated by financial challenges that are the outgrowth of mismanagement at the top of the municipal organization as well as misdirection by the council itself.
Garcia indicated that he considers efficient and equitable law enforcement operations to be a key component of Upland living up to its reputation as The City of Gracious Living. It is his opinion that Police Chief Goodman embodies the requisite qualities and the nuanced appreciation of the Upland community to allow the police department to calibrate its operations and responses to the city’s varied needs and the demands of the wide range and character of its neighborhoods.
Garcia said he was concerned that the cavalier treatment of Goodman that occurred earlier this year had the potential of depriving the city of someone he said arguably represented the city’s premier human resource.
The precise reason why the city manager abruptly placed Goodman on paid leave of absence has never been fully explained officially. The rapidity with which the police chief was returned to his assignment overseeing the department – within seven days – and the firestorm of protest his brief departure provoked was a demonstration that the action, which was effectuated without the full backing of the city council, had not been fully thought through. Moreover, revelations that leaked out in the midst of Goodman’s suspension suggested City Manager Rosemary Hoerning, with the consent of Mayor Debbie Stone, had proceeded with placing Goodman on leave based on incomplete information.
What is known is that on Friday, June 19, a specially-called meeting of the city council, one hastily convened on the basis of what was said to be an emergency that dispensed with the normal 72-hour notification provided in advance of governmental board meetings, was held. At that meeting, the council discussed the potential of the city being sued by a member or members of the police department.
Less than a month earlier, on May 31, Third District Councilman Ricky Felix’s resignation tendered on May 11 had become effective. Thus, the council that met on June 19 stood at four-fifths strength, consisting of Mayor Stone, Second District Councilwoman Janice Elliott, Fourth District Councilman Rudy Zuniga and Councilman Bill Velto, who had been appointed into what was the council’s last remaining at-large council seat. The Sentinel is reliably informed that no discussion of, nor consensus to effectuating, a suspension or firing of Goodman was arrived at during the June 19 closed door meeting. Velto was lukewarm on the idea and both Zuniga and Elliott were less than sold on the necessity of any precipitate action.
What is unclear is whether Hoerning explained during the course of that meeting that the grounds she felt justified Goodman’s placement on leave was an accusation leveled at Goodman by Luz Barrett, a police department clerical worker who had temporarily been elevated by Goodman shortly after he became police chief to serve as his executive assistant. Barrett charged that Goodman had availed himself of her services as a translator in dealing with his Spanish-speaking housekeeper, what Barrett had represented as being a misappropriation of department resources. It was Goodman’s contention that he had compensated Barrett for her translation assistance. Just prior to Barrett unleashing the accusation at Goodman, he had acted to return her to her former position, based on his judgment that Barrett’s function as executive assistant was below the standard needed in the position.
In lodging her accusation against Goodman, Barrett contended that she had, at Goodman’s behest, forged a timecard to obtain city payment for her translation work for Goodman. An examination of the timecard, however, demonstrated that it did not bear Goodman’s hand signature but rather a stamp of his autograph, not his physical signature, which is contrary to Goodman’s established policy of actually signing with a pen the timesheets he personally reviews. Thus, the prevailing evidence is that Barrett never submitted the timesheet to Goodman and instead added his stamped signature to forge the timecard on her own initiative before forwarding it to the city’s payroll division. Neither Hoerning nor Stone informed the other three members of the city council that Barrett had forged the timecard in her effort to implicate Goodman.
The Sentinel was told that Hoerning has developed some level of resentment toward Goodman, potentially because her $230,000 annual salary before benefits is less than the roughly $250,000 the city council earlier this year indicated it was prepared to pay Goodman to stay in place as police chief beyond this year to prevent him from jumping ship to take the assistant police chief’s position that has reportedly been offered to him in Riverside. Goodman’s academic credentials exceed those of Hoerning, as he holds a PhD from USC’s Rossier School of Education.
Three days after the June 19 closed-door meeting of the council, on Monday, June 22, Hoerning acting solely with the authority of the mayor’s backing and without the backing of the remainder of the city council, suspended Goodman. When informed late that morning about the suspension of the police chief, Councilman Zuniga said he had not been informed in advance that it was going to take place. He said neither he nor the council voting together had authorized the suspension.
On June 29, after the city had attempted but failed to prevent the widespread public surfacing of information relating to Barrett’s accusations against Goodman forming the grounds for the police chief’s suspension, Hoerning at the direction of Zuniga, Elliott and Velto reinstated Goodman.
Carlos Garcia is running in a specially-scheduled election in the Third District, which is located in the city’s southwestern quadrant, to fill the gap on the council created as a consequence of Ricky Felix’s resignation. The winner of that race, which also involves candidates Gino Filippi, Tauvaga Hoching and Lamonta Amos, will serve as Third District councilman for the two-year-period between December 2020 and December 2022.
Garcia said, “As a candidate running for office, the first item on my platform is public safety. I am grateful to the women and men of our Upland Police Department for their great sacrifice in keeping our community safe.”
Garcia indicated he would have been a strong voice against the effort to discredit Goodman that took place in June if he had been a member of the council.
“I am a big supporter of exemplary leadership, and Chief Goodman sets that example,” Garcia said. “As a city, we are very blessed to have such a great individual leading our police department. During the short amount of time Chief Goodman has been here, I have seen him work hard to undertake a number of enhancements to the department’s operations and the safety of Upland in general. He has improved efficiency; doing more than any other chief has done with less by operating with frozen positions two consecutive years. He has established creative deployment of reduced resources through developing proactive enforcement teams to address serious crime and quality of life issues. Unfortunately, those teams are now being disbanded due to cuts the city made and staffing shortages. The chief has increased training and executive development. He has advanced investigations, emphasized de-escalation during confrontational department operations and improved tactical proficiency. He has also restructured the city’s homeless coordinator position and achieved improved homeless outreach. The improved program utilizes someone with expertise in homelessness, and who works collaboratively with the police department, behavioral health, and other support services. Chief Goodman has improved public engagement and transparency. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, he held quarterly community forums in each district; coffee with a cop events; open houses; and had a heavy social media presence. Chief Goodman has produced results, having reduced the homeless count two consecutive years; lowered crime; improved morale; and increased community confidence in policing.”
-Mark Gutglueck

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