Friday, October 20, 2006

A little background on Owen Kreza and the Irvine PD


October 10, 2006:
District personnel, led by Vice Chancellor Bob King, descended upon the Irvine Valley College Campus Police Office and informed Police Chief Owen Kreza and Deputy Police Chief Dennis Duncan that they have been placed on Administrative Leave.

Their computers were seized.
(See IVC’s top cops placed on administrative leave)
I’ve asked around, and nobody’s quite sure what’s going on here. Evidently, Kreza (and Duncan) are under investigation.

Since the 10th, people have run into Kreza, and they report that he claims not to know what the district is up to.

I’ve begun to collect old news articles concerning Chief Kreza—and especially concerning the Irvine Police Department, where he served for over twenty years before becoming IVC’s chief cop.

Thus far, I’ve only had time to sift through articles from 1993, when the Irvine PD weathered a series of controversies.

This much is already clear: when RAGHU MATHUR hired him in 2001, Owen Kreza had already experienced controversy, at least as an officer in the IPD.

On the other hand, no report I provide below establishes that Kreza engaged in misconduct of any kind.

1. THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAWSUIT and the “CODE FOUR CLUB”

JUNE 24, 1993 ~ LA TIMES


By 1992, some female IPD officers complained openly that, since their hire (in some cases, they had been hired in the mid-80s), they had experienced serious and sustained sexual harassment and discrimination.

Finally, in November, two of these officers (Lohman & Taylor) filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. (See Times, 11/19/92)

Seven months later, the Times reported that "[Irvine] City officials launched an investigation Wednesday into allegations that on-duty police officers routinely had sex with women in the back seats of patrol cars and formed a club to induct those officers who 'got away with it.'"

The Times reported that the investigation came about because these allegations "were leveled by a lawyer for four former and current Police Department employees who sued the city in February for sexual harassment and discrimination over the treatment of women on the force."

"The women," reported the Times, "claim that some officers boasted openly about their on-duty sexual exploits and formed a 'Code Four' club in the department in which membership and pins were awarded to an officer once he had sex with a woman in his patrol car...'If you got away with it, you could become a member,' plaintiff Pamela Fuehrer said at a press conference held at her attorney's office."

According to the Times, the city's mayor, Mike Ward, "said he views the allegations seriously...'I want (city officials) to search out if there's any truth to this matter whatsoever and if so, take appropriate action. Anyone involved in this should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,' Ward said."

Meanwhile, an attorney for the city, Dave Larsen, was quoted as saying, "'I find it a little peculiar that these issues were raised this late in the game . . . if it was really something that bothered them.'"

NOTE: Larsen represented the SOCCCD when Roy Bauer successfully sued the district for violating his free speech rights when it went after him with regard to Dissent. For a time, Bob King was Larsen's assistant on the case.

A year ago, King became the district’s Vice Chancellor of Human Resources.


NOTE: as near as I can tell, the "Code Four Club" story was not central to, nor perhaps even important to, the sexual harassment and discrimination beef of the IPD women. My guess is that the nature and grounds of the women's complaints were almost immediately obscured by the news media's focus on this "sex club" business. Thus, when, later, it was "determined"--by the IPD's internal investigation--that there was no evidence of a sex club, the public perhaps drew the fallacious conclusion that the womens' complaints had no merit. In fact, the women had complained about a great many things--e.g., cruel and offensive comments, pressure to attend obnoxious parties, groping, endangerment--having no connection with an alleged sex club.

June 25, 1993 ~ LA TIMES

In this article, the Times reported that the IPD's investigation into the alleged "Code Four" club continued, and that it was perhaps near completion.

According to this article, Police Chief Charles Brobeck stated that "investigators have focused on lapel pins for a 'Code Four Club.' (Code Four is a police term meaning an officer is all right.) A preliminary investigation indicated that some officers might have owned such pins seven or eight years ago…."

The Times also reported that the lawyer for the four women who were suing the city had made a presentation in which he "displayed a Code Four Club pin as proof that such a club existed for at least eight years. The women [two of whom were in attendance] also claimed that officers openly boasted about their sexual exploits and that the pins were awarded to an officer once he had sex with a woman in his patrol car."

According to the Times, the Chief and the president of the police union, Henry Boggs, carped that "officers are angry and frustrated over the allegations...'My peers are upset because they are not allowed because of department policy to speak out against these allegations'."

As we'll see, Boggs himself would soon be revealed to have been involved in some form of "Code Four" club.

2. THE INVESTIGATION’S ROSY RESULTS ARE ANNOUNCED

July 1, 1993 ~ LA TIMES

In this article, the Times reported that, according to Chief Brobeck, the IPD's investigation found "'absolutely no evidence' to substantiate charges that some officers had sex with women in the back seats of patrol cars and formed a club to celebrate their exploits."

Brobeck added that he hoped they could leave this matter "definitely behind us now..."

According to the Times, the investigation found that "some officers did own Code Four Club pins, which were produced seven years ago as a side business by two Irvine officers hoping to capitalize on the popularity of such police-related lapel pins...But investigators found nothing to indicate that such a club ever existed or that the pins were related in any way to sexual misconduct." --Or so said a statement released by the Chief and the City Manager, said the Times.

Two of the women suing the city were Fuehrer and Taylor. According to the Times, their attorney, Steve R. Pingel, was unimpressed by the report: "'I am not at all surprised that a department internal-affairs investigation did not produce evidence of a Code Four Club,' he said. 'I believe it exists and will produce evidence at the time of a trial.'…."

3. UH-OH, DISPATCHERS: NEW ALLEGATIONS

July 15, 1993 ~ LA TIMES

On the fifteenth of July, the Times reported that new allegations of an actual sex club had surfaced.

The new charges were presented as "notarized statements from two former" IPD employees, namely, "former dispatchers Nancy Anna Maubach and Nancy Fox." Those women left the department in 1990.

According to the Times, these women had joined a women's group (NOW, I think), which called for an independent investigation this time. The organization seemed to suppose that the new information refuted the rosy "no sex club" conclusions of the internal affairs investigation.

Still, reported the Times, "the documents offered few details to substantiate the charges...Nor do either of the statements say that the women actually witnessed any specific instances of sexual misconduct in patrol cars. Rather, Maubach said she was told about the club by other employees, and Fox said 'male officers would brag to me or in my presence about their membership in the club.'"

(No doubt, legally, the Times has a point. From the perspective of common sense, however, it is difficult imagining Maubach and Fox daily interacting with officers for years and hearing their routine references to sexual conquests--if such events were not occurring. It is possible, I suppose, that the officers conspired to maintain the illusion, for Maubach and Fox, that they routinely engaged in sexual misconduct.)

AUGUST 21, 1993 ~ OC REGISTER

In August, the Register reported that "Three Irvine police officers are on paid leave today after an investigation into an alleged police sex club produced unrelated charges of misconduct...The misconduct allegations also could lead to the suspension of three other officers, all of whom remain at work."

According to the Reg, city manager Paul Brady "said the actions were not directly related to the so-called 'Code Four Club,' whose members were said to be Irvine police officers who had sex in the back seats of their patrol cars...'The investigation from the allegations made on the Code Four Club is what prompted this, along with a July 16 piece of information from a citizen not associated with the Police Department,' Brady said."

The Reg explained that, according to Brady, the six officers would soon be given a "hearing" with Chief Brobeck.

AUGUST 22, 1993 ~ LA TIMES

One day later, the Times reported that, according to Chief Brobeck, "none of the six police officers he seeks to fire or suspend has engaged in criminal misconduct." Some of the alleged offenses, Brobeck was reported as saying, "were 'absolutely stupid' minor violations of departmental regulations."

Brobeck was also quoted as saying: "It's a series of things that are not egregious acts but a series of minor misconduct things that when you add them together, an officer can't continue working or has to have discipline imposed...Some things are absolutely stupid that these guys did. They violated the rules and regulations."

The article revealed that, among the six officers was Henry Boggs, the president of the local police union!

According to the Times, Officers Baxter, Landman, and Shaw had been notified of the Chief's intention of firing them, and they were placed on "paid leave."

(Will we ever learn what these guys had done?)

Officers Asturias, KREZA, and Boggs, however, "were told they face suspension." They remained at work.

The Times reported that, according to city officials, these six disciplinary actions were not connected to the sexual harassment lawsuit. Neither were they connected to "a claim by two former dispatchers that Irvine police have a 'Code 4' club members join by having sex in the back of their patrol cars."

Evidently, the "alleged misdeeds were uncovered during an investigation that began when the lawsuit was filed and was helped by information a citizen provided, according to Brobeck, Brady and Martin J. Mayer, an attorney for the Police Department."

According to the Times, in July, a woman called the IPD "to report 'some activity by an officer that she thought was kind of unusual.'" Or so said Brobeck.

SEPTEMBER 1, 1993 LA TIMES

In September, the Times reported that Chief Brobeck said that he had decided not to discipline (suspend) Henry Boggs after all.

Brobeck still wasn't revealing exactly how Boggs had gotten in the Chief's crosshairs, but at least we learned what Boggs had done: "…City Hall and Police Department sources said that in the mid-1980s, Boggs manufactured lapel pins with 'Code Four Club' printed on them."

Evidently, he had manufactured thousands of them. (He had a cop partner. Kreza? Don't know.)

* * * * *
4. MORE RECENTLY

I’ve not yet determined what became of the lawsuits filed by the former IPD employees.

☹ Neither have I determined whether Owen Kreza was ultimately suspended by Chief Brobeck.

☝ That's the $64,000 question. Does anyone out there have the answer?

☻ I’ll keeping working on that.

✰ Recently, someone sent me the following Lariat article:


NOTE: at least one person connected with the Diaz case has contacted me and insists that the LARIAT article below is very erroneous. For various reasons, I'm inclined to believe this person. (11/3/06)

* * * * *

March 29, 2005 ~ LARIAT
Sharon Diaz, an IVC police officer, has filed a gender harassment claim against the SOCCCD.

The claim, filed March 7, alleges that Diaz was continuously harassed, subject to a hostile work environment and discriminated against because she was a woman police officer. It seeks more than $1 million in damages and names IVC Police chief Owen Kreza, Deputy Policy Chief Dennis Duncan and police officer Rick Welch [re Welch, see note below].

“It is obvious by their actions that Kreza, Duncan and Welch do not believe that women should be police officers,” said Eric Lampel, Diaz’s attorney.

The board of trustees…denied the claim at a March 22 meeting at the recommendation of District Chancellor Raghu Mathur….

Lampel said he would soon file a gender based discrimination lawsuit in Superior Court….

The claim alleges that the harassment began after Diaz complained to Kreza about a dating relationship Welch was involved in with a 19-year-old female student….

According to the claim, after that Welch appeared angry with Diaz, tampered with her logs, made sexual comments and left nasty messages on her computer.

The claim alleges that Kreza failed to stop the harassment after numerous complaints by Diaz.

The female student was later arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon for trying to run down Diaz and five IVC students with her car….

According to the claim, Diaz also experienced harassment after an incident on August 27, 2003, when she was called to break up a fight between two males on the IVC campus.

Diaz called the Irvine Police Department for backup and was subsequently reprimanded by Duncan for not handling the situation herself.

…”Duncan told Diaz that a male police officer could have handled the situation without calling for backup.”

Based on the incident, Diaz was required to attend a fitness-for-duty evaluation where a district psychologist found Diaz unfit for duty, Lampel said.

According to Lampel, a subsequent evaluation by an independent Los Angeles Police Department psychologist disagreed with the initial finding and found Diaz fit for duty….

✪ What became of Diaz's suit (if indeed she ever filed one)?

Inquiring minds wanna know.

UPDATE: someone close to this case telephoned me today, insisting that the Lariat was mistaken and that Officer Rick Welch is not "named" in the suit; rather, he is listed as a witness.

UPDATE 2: I've been reading the "fair use" standards, which are not terribly clear, but which do provide some direction. On the basis of that reading, I've rewritten this article.

See also

Anti-discrimination suit against CEO Mathur

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why do they continue to hire people who put the rest of us and the work we do at risk?

There's a pattern here.

We deserve better.

Anonymous said...

Class action suit for exposing us for years now to supervisors with histories of inappropriate behavior, people who threaten and create hostile workplace conditions?

Administration looks the other way while we tell them of this gross misconduct - and often, when they can't keep them in that position anymroe, transfers them to work with - gasp - students! (There's lawsuit waiting to happen - sort of like what they did with those pedophile priests - move them around and hope that no one notices..)

What happened to Cely's suit? Remember when they hired the man with the hisory of abuse at other places instead of her?

Professor said...

I clearly remember these guys from my time living in OC. The sex in the backseat stuff, the club stuff. All of it. Keep on Chunk.

Anonymous said...

Where's the proof? You've posted nothing but old news’ reports and allegations from disgruntled employees. Where's the proof that any of this is factual? Once again, you liberal fruitcakes are quick to judge in the court of public opinion. Reminds one of sharks circling around in pandemonium eager to partake in a feeding frenzy. You're pathetic.

Lucy said...

I'm kind of liking that mixed metaphor with the sharks and fruitcake, but then, I do love winter holidays. That remark about "disgruntled employees," though. We've heard that defense before. You know, I get that guys in their forties banded together in search of sexual conquest. That is common as dirt. But for a dispatcher to have to listen to those guys code 4 out when she needed them to take calls, heck, I'd have been a lot more than disgruntled. this is a fine piece of research, Chunk.

Anonymous said...

GO CHUNK!!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:10 pm is that you OWEN?

Chunk Wheeler said...

Dear 9:54:

Cely's trial (v. Raghu Mathur re sex discrimination) was postponed owing to one of the judge's trials running long, causing conflicts with the attorneys' schedules.

Last I heard, the two sides were working to find a date that would work for everybody. Standard stuff.

The case is very much "on." In fact, the delay has been beneficial for Cely's case in various ways.

Say stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

How did Kreza become the chief anyway , he was an officer at the irvine police dept. not a sergeant , lieutenant. or captain and he got hired as a chief ??? did he know someone ?? how do you make such a jump without providing yourself.

Anonymous said...

did the Irvine police dept check the roof of the police dept , that's where all the guys threw their code 4 pins after it hit the newspaper

There's a pattern: similar and disturbing

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