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By Henrietta J. Burroughs                    Follow East Palo Alto Today on
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November 14, 2013                        
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Photo of former East Plo Alto Police Chief  Ron Davis 
Ron Davis, former East Palo Alto Police Chief

 

In his last week serving as East Palo Alto's Police Chief, Ron Davis was highly praised by the East Palo Alto City Council and the city's staff.

During the East Palo Alto City Council meeting on November 6, East Palo Alto's Mayor Ruben Abrica was one of the city officials who congratulated Davis on his new position as the director of the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and on his role in spreading the practice of community policing in East Palo Alto.

Abrica told Davis that community policing was always in our hearts. The mayor explained that community policing was one of the key reasons the city wanted its own police department and wanted a police department that would be accountable to the people of East Palo Alto. "You're the one who did this," he said, looking at Davis.

However, not everyone is happy with Davis' performance as the city's police chief. Four African American police officers within the department filed a complaint against him.

In the complaint, dated November 1 and addressed to the the city’s Assistant City Manager, Barbara Powell, who is in charge of human resources, the four officers charged that there is discrimination and a hostile work environment within the East Palo Alto Police Department.

The four said, “We believe that Chief Ronald L. Davis has conducted himself and has tacitly permitted others within the organization to act in a manner which has violated our rights and the rights of other current and former employees....

“We believe that Chief’s Davis’s hiring practices are discriminatory and unfavorable toward African Americans. Chief Davis’s promotional and assignment decisions exclude African Americans, and his temperament toward African American employees is abrasive, belittling, and dismissive.

The letter stated, ”The decision to file a complaint has been very difficult for each of us and we find no satisfaction or take any pleasure in doing so. Nevertheless we feel very strongly that in order to restore a sense of fairness to this proud department we have no other alternative.

The four said they were “seeking immediate relief and remedy to Chief Davis’ outrageous practices and unfair treatment.”

Copies of the complaint were sent to Abrica, Council members Laura Martinez, Larry Moody, Lisa Yarbrough-Gauthier and to East Palo Alto's City Manager, Magda González. A copy was also sent to former Council member David Woods, who had resigned.

When asked about the complaint, Powell said, “The City immediately began undertaking appropriate actions as soon as it received the complaint.
Because this is a confidential personnel matter, I am not able to provide additional information.”

Powell added, “The City of East Palo Alto takes all allegations of discrimination very seriously, looks into them very carefully and will take appropriate action as needed.”

 

Henrietta J. Burroughs, the author of this article, can be reached by email at epatoday@epatoday.org.