LAPD Officer Retaliated Against for Whistleblowing on Department’s Misappropriation of Anti-Terrorist Funds
As reported in an article by NBC Los Angeles, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) insiders recently claimed that the City of Los Angeles is not ready for a terrorist attack due to a lack of officer training and equipment problems, such as protective vests that don’t fully cover the torso. In addition, many officers don’t feel comfortable firing their rifles. The insiders’ identities were concealed for fear of retaliation.
On the heels of this story, LAPD Sergeant Ronald Gray steps forward with a lawsuit against the LAPD alleging retaliation for whistleblowing on his department for multiple violations of the law, including the misappropriation and misuse of federal grant money earmarked specifically for anti-terrorism purposes. Gray is represented by plaintiff law firm McNicholas & McNicholas (who has represented over 100 LAPD officers over the last 15 years, and currently represents 25 others in pending litigation).
“The Department appears to be misusing funds earmarked for a specific purpose – purchasing and maintaining equipment for use in weapons of mass destruction (WMD) attacks – for whatever it thinks it needs. The recent NBC article is trying to shed light on the fact that officers may appear to be ready for a terrorist attack, but are not,” said lead attorney Matthew McNicholas. “Sergeant Gray’s case is another piece to this puzzle. And now, for stepping up, his career—his means of earning a living—has been irreparably harmed through demotion.”
Joining the LAPD in 1988, Gray held the rank of Sergeant II and Officer-in-Charge of the Counter Terrorism Training Unit (CTTU), which oversaw and administered the use of Urban Area Security Initiative Federal Grant funds for the specific purpose of purchasing and maintaining Personal Protective Equipment for use in WMD attacks. His unit would train the department on how to use the equipment, and then would actually roll-out to the scene with the equipment which are specially designed trailers to outfit the officers there.
Beginning in 2010, Sergeant Gray began reporting what he believed to be grant violations by members of the LAPD Command Staff. These included reassigning grant-purchased equipment to other divisions for other purposes. As a result of Sergeant Gray’s reporting, an audit was conducted in or around September 2011 to ensure compliance with the Federal Grant program. In the end, after many months, the Department dismissed the audit and no corrective action was taken. Thereafter, Sergeant Gray reported what he believed were violations, which included the complete misconfiguration of trailers that were supposed to be used to store and transport the personal protective equipment in terrorist scenes.
In retaliation for reporting these violations and continuing to speak out against the Department’s unlawful practices, Sergeant Gray was harassed and retaliated against based on the very violations he reported. This included revoking his workout on duty privileges at the Training Division; forcing him to go off work Injured-on-Duty for stress and hypertension-related issues arising from the retaliation; removing overtime; and finally, demoting his rank from Sergeant II to Sergeant I, relieving his supervisory position within CTTU, and transferring him to a non-supervisory position.