A fifth officer filed a lawsuit against the UC Santa Barbara Police Department on May 17, marking a total of four suits filed against the department since November 2018.
The plaintiff in the most recent case, Jonathan Lee Reyes v. University of California Regents, is UC Santa Barbara UC Police Department officer Jonathan Lee Reyes. In the suit, Reyes alleges he was retaliated against for reporting misconduct in the department relating to the retention and promotion of an unqualified police trainee.
The suit alleges that Reyes’ whistleblowing led UCPD Lieutenant David Millard and UCPD Sergeant Gregory Smorodinsky to block Reyes from receiving a promotion to higher positions and that the two gave Reyes an unfair poor performance review.
According to an individual within UCPD who asked that their name not be used, Millard is currently at a training course at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Academy; the individual provided photographic evidence to the Nexus that Millard was there and not on the UC Santa Barbara campus as of May 9.
UCSB spokesperson Andrea Estrada was unable to comment on whether or not Millard was at the FBI academy, but could confirm that he is still an active member of the UCPD.
The suit alleges that UCPD “retaliated against other employees based on the same protected class [as Reyes].” The suit also alleges that UCPD failed to “discipline other employees outside [Reyes’] own protected class as severely” for the same actions.
Reyes’ lawsuit is the latest of four lawsuits filed against the department since late last year, all of which allege that the plaintiffs were retaliated against for blowing the whistle on misconduct in the department.
The other three suits — John Doe v. UC Regents, filed in March 2019, Michael Little and Tiffany Little v. UC Regents, filed in March 2019 and Mark Signa v. UC Regents, filed in November 2018 — are currently active cases.
Millard, Smorodinsky and the UC Regents are defendants in Reyes v. UC Regents; Millard and Smorodinsky are also defendants in Littles v. UC Regents.
In Reyes v. UC Regents, the complaint alleges that Millard repeatedly promoted a trainee officer from lower positions despite opposition from Reyes and others in the department who were concerned about the trainee’s performance. Reyes alleges he brought concerns forward to Millard multiple times, including when the trainee was first assigned to Reyes and later when Millard announced the trainee had completed Field Training Officer (FTO) training.
The case alleges that Millard’s approval to promote the unqualified trainee created “a threat to the safety of the public and the University” and violated California Penal Code 832, which states that “a peace officer shall satisfactorily complete an introductory training course.”
The allegations in court documents begin in June 2017, when Reyes was assigned as an FTO with the trainee. Court documents say that after Millard announced in an email that the trainee will advance to the next phase, Reyes, along with several other officers, objected the promotion, pointing to “multiple evaluations by FTO’s [which] indicated that the trainee was failing,” court documents allege.
Despite an FTO’s recommendation for the trainee’s termination and the trainee’s failure to pass a program from the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards Training (P.O.S.T.) — the body responsible for creating law enforcement training requirements — Lieutenant Millard “successfully released [the trainee] from FTO training,” court documents allege.
Reyes then allegedly emailed the region coordinator for P.O.S.T. to relay his concerns about the failing trainee. Millard later met with Reyes and accused him of “not following an order” to promote the trainee, court documents allege.
In August 2017, Reyes was denied a promotion to corporal, despite being “better qualified for the position than other candidates selected for the position,” court documents state.
Then, in September 2017, Reyes applied for a position as a sergeant but was again denied the promotion in March 2018.
Reyes alleges that he did not receive these positions, despite his qualifications, due to retaliation from Millard regarding the trainee.
The suit also alleges that Reyes’ poor performance review from 2018 was another result of the department’s retaliation, this time from Smorodinsky “under the direction of [Millard].”
Court documents state “the review was very critical” and omitted “various positive things throughout the year.” Reyes submitted a grievance to the department “which detailed each point in his review that he felt was inaccurate or unwarranted,” and his review was later overturned in response.
The allegations in the suit involve a handful of other officers as well, including former Police Chief Dustin Olson, former Assistant Chief Cathy Farley, Sergeant Gregory Pierce and Sergeant Rory Sheehey, who are named in the other cases as well. However, none of the aforementioned officers are being sued in Reyes’ case.
Three of the four cases filed since November 2018, including Reyes v. UC Regents, are represented by the same law firm, Richie Litigation, based in Los Angeles. Antonio Castillo, a lawyer handling the cases from Richie Litigation, said in an email that the three cases “are exposing long-term systemic systems of bullying and the suppression of the advancement of minority police officers.”
Ryan Smith, the plaintiff in John Doe v. UC Regents, is the only officer of the five who worked with a different attorney, Peter Horton, to file his claim.
The lawsuits brought forward by Reyes, Signa and the Littles are steps toward addressing the department’s alleged misconduct, according to Castillo.
“That these brave officers have come forward and inspired many more to do so means that we finally have an opportunity to make real progress in changing how the UCSB Police Department operates,” Castillo said.
A version of this article appeared on page 3 of the May 30, 2019 edition of the Daily Nexus.
The FBI National Academy is a prestigious management course. Why send someone there who is accused of wrongdoing? Sends a bad message…
How much is this costing us? When tuition is at an all time high, why is the University paying for a corrupt manager to go to this type of course? Why are they not investigating all of this? Shameful.
Was Chief Olson absent while all of this was allegedly going on, or was he just incompetent when it came to leading people? I imagine he and his management team will be some of the John Does in this latest complaint. One has to wonder whether any police work was being accomplished while all of this alleged misconduct was happening.
What a mess.
Chief Olson quickly abandoned ship and is now Chief at the Colorado School of Mines.
I know. But he’s a named defendant in most of these lawsuits, so I imagine he’ll be back at a deposition [or three] to talk about what he did and didn’t do during his tenure as chief at UCSB. I’d be interested in knowing what he has to say about it.
All those cops are crooked and racist.
Chief Olson n management from the Police Dept. covered a sexual assault that happened in 2014 to a civilian employee
that worked for the Police Dept, She was assaulted by the Business officer (not sworn) employee.. Business Officer was found guilty by
Title 9.. He was not punished, and continue working for UCSB Police Dept.. Assistant Chief Farley was very aware of the assault..
Hello, I was employed by the Police Department during this time Jan. 2011 – Mid 2016 And this statement that was made is true. Back then I wondered where I could turn, who could I go to? The answer was NO WHERE. We had a Business Officer who was out of control; I witnessed many hostile actions and reported them. He would take peoples desk items- such as calendars. files and adding machines – and angrily push them into the garbage can. It was a complete outrage when this Business Officer who commonly told our co-wokers to “Fu*k Off” and… Read more »
What’s wrong with this department?
I could be wrong, but I think ex-chief Olson had no clue how to manage people…
Hello, As I was saying below, I worked for the UCSB Police Department for 5 years and 3 months (starting Jan. 2011) – the sad thing is everything I have read here, I know to be true. Especially the facts regarding the Business Officer accused and found guilty of sexual assault committed on 2 – co-workers only 1 which brought a suit. This Business Officer was (non-sworn) and unimaginably MEAN, and abusiv. This caused me much unbearable stress. He was to be stripped of his supervisory role, and yet the Police let him supervise one of the victims. The abuse… Read more »