By Brian Rokos, The Press-Enterprise
Posted: 09/14/16 – 10:15 PM PDT |
A San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy testified Wednesday that he was removed from a prestigious motorcycle traffic-enforcement assignment after he criticized what he characterized as a supervisor’s illegal traffic-ticket quota and continued to cite Victorville elected officials, city officials and off-duty deputies over that same supervisor’s objections.
“Quotas are illegal. Period,” Deputy Brian Moler testified in Superior Court in San Bernardino on the first day of a civil whistleblower-retaliation trial over a lawsuit he and two others filed against the county.
“There’s so much distrust in law enforcement. We have to stand up for what’s right, no matter what the cost.”
When Moler lost his motorcycle assignment – a job he said he felt “blessed” to do – he was moved to patrol duty.
“The department tells you to do what’s right. I did that. And I was punished for it,” Moler said.
The other plaintiffs seeking damages are Deputy Jeff Wetmore and retired Sgt. Tim Jordan.
When Wetmore complained of the orders of Capt. Sam Lucia and Lt. Jon Billings, he too was transferred, the lawsuit said.
Jordan, the motorcycle unit supervisor, had to retire because of a hostile work environment, said Moler’s attorney, Ontario-based Christopher L. Gaspard, in his opening statement.
Paloma P. Peracchio, an attorney for Los Angeles-based Burke, Williams and Sorensen and representing the county, told the jurors in her opening statement that scores of deputies are routinely transferred every year, not as punishment, but to expose deputies to more assignments. She said that when Billings told motor officers they should write at least 200 citations a month, it was a guideline and not a quota.
“The truth is that the department’s actions had nothing to do with them. They were not singled out,” Peracchio told jurors. “The fact that the these three disagreed with decisions does not make it retaliation.”
Peracchio said she plans to call Sheriff John McMahon as a witness.
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