November 27, 2012

Job appeal hearing for ex-detective canceled

Rachel Brown

CHATSWORTH — An appeals hearing for a former Chatsworth police detective was canceled minutes before it was to start on Monday.

Steve Williams, an attorney for the city of Chatsworth, said former detective Jim Whitehead was not entitled to a hearing under the city’s personnel policy because he was let go due to budget cuts and not because he did anything wrong. Whitehead planned to ask the city’s police committee for his job back.

“I have spoken with Mr. Whitehead just within the last 10 minutes and he understands that, acknowledges that and said there is really no purpose of having this hearing,” Williams told about a dozen people gathered for the hearing at Chatsworth City Hall.

Whitehead left the building before reporters could speak with him.

Records in Whitehead’s personnel file show Chief Terry Martin originally dismissed him Nov. 2 because he violated department policies in an infraction that involved “inappropriate contact with another officer’s wife” through texting and photos. Williams said a few days later council members eliminated Whitehead’s position because of budget cuts, placing a second notice of separation in his file. Williams said the first separation notice will be taken out of his file.

Martin has declined to discuss details of the texting issue as did Williams, who said he wanted to respect Whitehead’s wishes to not have that information publicized.

Alderman Wayne Graves said the city has a $400,000 budget deficit. The city’s budget is $1.2 million this year. While there is enough money in the fund balance to cover it, officials are looking to make cuts wherever they can, he said.

“We had to cut a position, so I guess that was the most convenient,” Graves said of Whitehead’s job.

Whitehead had worked for the department since 1990 and was paid close to $50,000 annually.