Police Chief Darrell Smith's prepared statement regarding settlement agreement with councilmember

Police Chief Darrell Smith's prepared statement regarding settlement agreement with councilmember

On January 29, 2019, the City of Lemoore took action against Council Member, Holly Blair by filing a Verified Petition for Writ of Mandate and Complaint for Declaratory Relief against Council Member Blair in the Kings County Superior Court.  The City also filed for a Temporary Restraining Order/Preliminary Injunction against Council Member Blair to restrain her from repeatedly and publicly publishing adverse, derogatory and defamatory statements about Lemoore City Police Officers, including myself.

For the past 5 years, I have proudly served my community as the Chief of Police of the Lemoore Police Department.  As the commanding officer of the Department, I hold police officers to a high standard of honesty, trustworthiness and integrity and I must lead those same officers by example.  There are laws in place for addressing personnel matters of sworn police officers and there are reasons those laws are in place.  Those reasons go well beyond Holly Blair.  The integrity of police officers is paramount to our ability to enforce the law, to make official reports, to testify in a court of law, and to protect and serve their community.  

Council Member Blair’s inability to control her own public speech and follow the lawful practices and procedures available to her as a member of the Lemoore City Council unfortunately brought us here, where we are today.  

Yesterday, the Lemoore City Council approved a settlement with Council Member Blair.  While it is disappointing that a city would ever be put in such a position to have to force honor, professionalism and a willingness to abide by the City’s administrative and procedural processes onto an elected official of local government, the City of Lemoore was put in that untenable situation.  

Because of my commitment to Lemoore, I feel compelled to issue this statement for the benefit of the sworn police officers in my Department and for the citizens of this community.  I have carefully reviewed the Compromise and Release Agreement, which was released to the public yesterday.  Here is what I like about it:

1. Council Member Blair must refrain from adverse and derogatory comments about individual City employees and its volunteers.  She has agreed to stop the behavior that created this mess and control her own speech;

2. Council Member Blair agreed to use the City’s administrative and procedural processes that protect the City employee’s due process, confidentiality and privacy rights;

3. While the payment of anything to Council Member Blair is offensive, this Agreement calls for payments to be made only to her legal counsel for their attorney’s fees incurred and the payments required under this Agreement will be spread over three separate fiscal years, so as to ease the impact on the City’s budget; 

4. Any violation of this Agreement, will trigger an obligation to pay a penalty in the amount of $1,000 per violation to the other party, plus all attorney’s fees and costs incurred in enforcing this penalty; and 

5. The Kings County Superior Court has retained jurisdiction over this matter and has the continued ability to monitor Council Member Blair’s social media platforms for the next two, or six years (if she is re-elected).  

While the Compromise and Release Agreement is far from perfect in this very imperfect world, it does and I remain hopeful that it will continue, to force professionalism and compliance with the City’s administrative processes onto the elected official, who has shown that she would not otherwise feel so restrained. 

Chief Darrell Smith

April 26, 2019

Comments powered by Disqus