Two members of the Tulare Police Department’s command staff returned to work on May 29.
Tulare Police Captain Fred Ynclan and Lieutenant Jerod Boatman are back on the job after being placed on paid administrative leave November 7 of last year.
While they were under formal investigation, the reason for their being placed on leave and reinstated remains a private, personnel-related manner.
In a press release, Interim TPD Chief Barry Jones stated the investigation into the officers to be complete.
“The last eight months have been very challenging for all of us, I would hope that we can move forward in a positive manner as a team for a common good,” he said. “There is an earnest commitment for improvement and better communications, but only as a team will this be accomplished.”
Cpt. Ynclan is to oversee patrol and investigation; Lt. Boatman is in charge of patrol shifts, Jones said.
A positive or negative?
Not everyone is pleased with the decision.
One TPD officer told the Tulare Police Officers Union attorney, Roger Wilson, that morale is the lowest this officer has seen in more than 10 years, Wilson told the Valley Voice.
“Rank and file are concerned about accountability,” Wilson said. “They are concerned about the system, as it works in Tulare.”
Since the department learned of the impending reinstatement of Ynclan and Boatman late last week, some officers have quit and others are looking for employment elsewhere, Wilson added. “There’s an exodus now.”
Wilson spoke at a December, 2017 council meeting while Ynclan, Boatman and former police chief, Wes Hensley, were all on administrative leave.
He spoke of a recent poll taken through private emails of Tulare police officers, which was not an official department survey.
“The results of the poll showed the union members are in favor of the city manager’s decision to place the command staff members on paid administrative leave and to continue with his investigation of those staff members’ conduct,” Wilson said at the time. “Further, the results of the poll show that the union members have no confidence in the leadership abilities of Chief Hensley.”
Wilson had presented a press release as an extension of his comments.
Ynclan and Boatman’s leave commenced one month and one week following that of their former chief.
At the time, then-city manager Joe Carlini said he and Interim Chief Jones discussed the situation surrounding Ynclan and Boatman, with Carlini deciding Jones should place the two on leave status.
Carlini was also the official who placed Hensley on leave on September 27 – and the official who fired him on March 20.
That firing was just a few hours prior to receiving his own pink slip from the Tulare City Council.
Both Hensley and Carlini worked as at-will employees and, according to their contracts, their employment could be terminated at any time with reason or for no reason at all.
Investigator John McGinness, a former Sacramento County Sheriff, was hired to investigate the three police command staff officers on January 19 at $150/hour.
McGinness’ hours and the total expense of the investigation has not yet been made public.
Based on the captain and lieutenant’s pay and benefits in 2016, Tulare has spent $23,290 per month for the two, equaling roughly $157,208 for the approximate six months and three weeks they have been on paid administrative leave.
It should be noted that Hensley was fired with the premise of not having anything to do with the investigation, two months into it.
Just why he had been on paid leave for six months and the city paid for an investigation into him for two months, while the former city manager ruminated over the decision of firing him, is not clear.
Why was Hensley fired?
In Carlini’s written words, Hensley was fired “to further the goals of this Organization, due to a loss of confidence in your ability to lead the Police Department in a manner that is consistent with the goals of this Organization; having management style that is incompatible with this Organization’s/Administration’s goals and the philosophies of leadership upon which they are based.”
Hensley was not fired for any reason of misconduct, his termination letter read. In a response to the Voice’s public information request, there is no written set of goals or philosophies for the police department.
With the reinstatement of Ynclan and Boatman, the firing of Hensley remains suspect. While a technicality of being fired without reason is permissible, the city council having fired Carlini just hours following his act of terminating the chief, is not consistent with their not having faith in Carlini’s leadership as city manager which includes that termination.
Hensley hired attorney Michael Lampe shortly following his paid administrative leave status. Following his permanent termination, they are still at work.
On May 1, Hensley, through his attorney, filed a Petition of Writ of Mandate with the Superior Court of California asking:
- A peremptory writ of mandate pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure 13 §1094.5, directing Respondent City of Tulare to provide Hensley an administrative appeal of his termination as Chief of Police, conducted in compliance with Government Code §11513(b) and the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act (Government Code §§3300-3312). In the alternative, Hensley seeks a peremptory writ of mandate directing the City to set aside its March 20, 2018, Notice of Termination of Hensley’s employment with the City.
- For multiple civil penalties as set forth in Government Code §3309.5(e).
- For costs of suit and attorneys’ fees incurred in bringing this action.
- For such other relief as this court may consider proper.
The Tulare PD has just hired a recent graduate of the police academy as well as two more entry-level officers pending their background investigations, Jones said. The department is holding more interviews on Monday being down six to eight officers, he added.
Dave Adalian’s reporting contributed to this article.