Unrest at the Bishop Police Department

Officers pen letter of no confidence in chief

Seven Bishop Police Officer have pinned a letter of no confidence in Police Chief Chris Carter. The letter was signed by sworn officers  Brent Gillespie, Mark Gutierrez, Doug Mairs, David Jepson, Jared Waasdorp, Bryan Rossy and Mike Mairs.

The letter was delivered to local media and the city council this past Thursday, September 17th. The letter was release while Chief Carter was on a scheduled vacation, not making him available to comment or respond. Chief Carter submitted a response Monday afternoon.

The letter of no confidence uses clear language in challenging Chief Carters integrity and ethics.  “The Bishop Police Department has a cancer. That Cancer is CRONYISM in the form of Chief Carter’s unfair, unethical, hostile and retaliatory leadership.”

The five page letter of no confidence opens by saying, “It is with great regret that we, the undersigned officers of the Bishop Police Department, write this letter.  Unfortunately circumstances leave us no choice.  We have lost all trust, faith and confidence in Chief Carter’s ability to lead this department and continue serving as Chief of Police.   By Fostering an atmosphere of hostility, retaliation and unethical behavior Chief Carter has brought morale to an all-time low.  Retention and recruitment of qualified personnel is suffering. That is turn jeopardizes the safety of the community.  Chief Carter’s unfair and inequitable treatment of Department personnel and his use of internal affairs investigations to intimidate officers can no longer be tolerated.”

Chief Carter, officer Dan Nolan, and City Councilman Joe Pecsi’s  involvement with Sierra Tactical Training and Active Response Resources (STTARR) is also addressed in the letter.  The letter of no confidence states, “Recently two on duty officers were in the Bishop Police department dispatch center.  The Dispatcher told the officers he was updating the STTARR.net website at the direction of Chief Carter.  The Dispatcher stated Councilman Pecsi had ask Chief Carter to have him (the dispatcher) update the website.  Utilizing on duty subordinate Police Department personnel and city computer systems to augment him and his partners’ private business venture could be viewed as time card fraud or even embezzlement of city resources.”

The officers letter also questions the departments lack of updated training, “The Department has not had a qualification shoot or defensive tactics training since November 2014. Per the Bishop Police Departments Policy, all sworn personnel are required to qualify quarterly with their duty weapon on an approved range course.”

Department moral was also addressed, “In other instances where officers have tried to express concerns about morale or police issues, the Chief has told officers, ‘If you don’t like working here there are five (expletive) doors, pick one.’  He once told supervisors at a staff meeting that if any officers weren’t happy with the schedule they ‘Should go sell (expletive) shoes at Kmart.'”

The letter of no confidence also addresses officer issues with City Administrator Jim Tatum.  “Several of the undersigned have also made the problems at the department know to City Administrator on numerous occasions.  He has failed to act.  More recently, the City Administrator chose to ignore lies and false statements made by a Department employee (and supported of Chief Carter) against an officer in an internal affairs investigation.”

Chief Carter’s Response.

It is my understanding there will be an official investigation, as there well should be, and I welcome it because I know what the truths of these allegations are. I assure you that while some of what has been said is true, the whole truth is not contained anywhere in their letter. I have been advised that because some of these allegations might amount to misconduct or even criminal conduct, I’m not obliged to make any statement and should not proceed without legal counsel. While I recognize the validity of this advice, I cannot and will not remain silent on this issue.

I would like the citizens of Bishop and any others who are concerned to take into account a couple of things: one being that I announced my retirement in July. These officers have had two months in the interim to go public with their complaints and concerns, and yet they chose to make these allegations on the day I left on a scheduled vacation and two weeks prior to my official retirement date. This isn’t a coincidence. Their goal has nothing to do with bettering the Department or exposing corruption. I believe this letter is a smear campaign, plain and simple.

This letter was signed by seven people, but authored by a single individual. Each of these individuals may have their own personal axes to grind based on our common history as subordinate and supervisor. This letter is not a correspondence from the Police Officers Association (union). There was no meeting held or vote taken, even though two of the people who signed this letter act as the President and Vice-President of the Union.

An internal notice of training regarding Range qualifications was sent out on August 22, 2015, to all sworn personnel, scheduling a Range Training for September 23rd. I’m aware we’re out of policy for our training and the issue was being addressed. This is yet another example of omission of facts in order to avoid presenting the whole truth.

Other quotes attributed to me are fairly accurate, however out of context they might be. I have no tolerance for those who still think this is a little league game. Not everybody gets a trophy (or promotion) for just showing up. We keep score here in the majors and I run a performance based system. I do play favorites. My favorites are those people who consistently give 111% and who solve problems and don’t whine about having to do their job. If you want a regular schedule with predictable hours and demands, K-mart is hiring. If you don’t like this job, there really are 5 doors in the building, pick one and I’ll help you pack. I respect professional attitudes and conduct. I will offer the opinion that for these officers to address their concerns in this manner is absolutely unprofessional and it might go a long way to explaining why none of them got a trophy.

There are many other allegations in the letter that will prove to be completely false, especially those that would call into question the integrity or character of Jim Tatum, Joe Pecsi and any other member of the Bishop Police Department. There is no conspiracy, no misconduct and no excuse for these Officers to attack others in their attempt to tarnish my reputation or my history of service to this Community. They can offer no proof of the validity of their claims but I can offer absolute proof of my innocence and that of others they have attacked.

In closing, I offer the following; I have done nothing illegal, unethical or immoral as your Chief of Police. I continue to serve at the  pleasure of the City Council and will continue to do so while my replacement is sought. Should the Council choose other options, it has been my honor to serve them and this Community for the past 12 years and I assure you that the men and women of the Bishop Police Department are still serving and protecting to the best of their ability.

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