Chief background check in final stages
Published: Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 8:40 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 8:40 a.m.
Completion of the three-week background check for Petaluma's newly selected police chief Patrick Williams, formerly police chief of Desert Hot Springs, is taking longer than expected, said City Manager John Brown said last week.
Brown attributed the delay to the fact that he requested extra attention be paid to a $5 million intimidation and wrongful termination lawsuit that named Williams, along with other Desert Hot Springs officials.
News of the lawsuit broke days after Brown announced Williams as the new chief following an extensive, 42-applicant search.
Brown subsequently requested that the company performing the background check look closely at the merits of allegations put forth by former Desert Hot Springs Detective Andrea Heath in the suit.
The 81-page document, filed June 28 in federal court, claims that after Heath testified against a fellow police officer in an FBI case against that officer for allegedly abusing an arrestee, Heath was subjected to humiliation, intimidation and eventual wrongful termination, all while Williams was police chief in Desert Hot Springs.
Several Petaluma City Council members have expressed a willingness to give Williams the benefit of the doubt unless a background check shows wrongdoing, noting that lawsuits against city officials are not uncommon and referring to Williams' record of ethical behavior.
Brown said that while the background check has not yet been completed, he does not plan to push back Williams' scheduled Aug. 13 start date.
He added that the background investigator has made contact with the FBI in regard to the details surrounding Heath's testimony and that he hopes to hear from them in the near future.
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