Monterey County

Seaside delays investigation into alleged harassment by police chief

Seaside police officers fight for better working conditions

SEASIDE, Calif. - Alleged harassment on the job by the city's top cop has some Seaside police officers on edge.  On Wednesday night, NewsChannel 5 looked at the city's plan to investigate those claims.  Seaside's Police Officer Association said its members don't think city leaders are doing enough to address their concerns.

The POA said it's worried about a biased investigation into its workplace harassment complaint.  The POA said it's in the middle of fighting for a better work environment, some claiming chief Vicki Meyers has inappropriately punched or touched employees.  Meyers told NewsChannel 5 last week, those claims are simply not true.  Now the investigation into those claims has been put on hold.

During Wednesday night's special meeting, council members were set to consider a recommendation from the city attorney, to retain help from Jones and Mayer, a law firm that's worked on police-related personnel issues over the past two years.  But city leaders decided to hold off for now.

"I'm going to request that the City Council table that matter and if necessary, we will bring it up at a future meeting," said City Manager Don Freeman.

A future meeting won't work for Seaside POA vice-president and patrol officer Devin Church.  That's because he doesn't see how lawyers with previous knowledge of the department's alleged issues with harassment, could remain unbiased.

"What we want is a completely impartial law firm to come here and investigate to be fair.  Not for us, not for her but for the sake of the process in which they keep talking about," Church said.

Church also took the opportunity at Wednesday's meeting, to request the city place Meyers on paid-administrative leave.  Church said officers are having a hard time doing their job under such stress.

"We are already in a tense, hostile work environment by our definition and how we feel when we go to work, that's how it is.  And that's why we're here," Church said.

Last week, Meyers told NewsChannel 5 the harassment claims are unfounded.  Church said the officers who stood up to share their alleged experiences with Meyers, feel vulnerable.

"We feel that we're not being protected as an association," Church said.

At Wednesday night's meeting, NewsChannel 5 waited to speak with City Attorney Don Freeman and put in a phone call to Mayor Ralph Rubio, to get more information on why the consideration was tabled.  We haven't been able to reach either one of them.

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