Beverly Hills – The City of Beverly Hills agreed to pay $2.3 million to settle the first of many lawsuits pending against its current police chief, following an onslaught of complaints and allegations from within the police department’s ranks.
Nearly 10 percent of the department’s 245 employees had filed lawsuits or complaints against Beverly Hill Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli as of early December, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Some accused Chief Spagnoli of making anti-Semitic and racist remarks, while others alleged she has been having sexual relationships with subordinate officers within the department.
On Nov. 30, following the advice of its insurance company, the city opted to settle a lawsuit filed by then-Beverly Hills Police Captain Mark Rosen, who alleged that Chief Spagnoli had made anti-Semitic remarks and denied him promotional advancements within the agency due to his religion.
Attorney Brad Gage, who represents several people who have filed claims against the chief, said that the city’s insurance company wouldn’t have recommended the settlement if the allegations didn’t hold water.
“I submit to you an insurance company isn’t going to pay $2.3 million unless it believes we have demonstrated a very strong case,” Gage said.
Capt. Rosen retired immediately after the suit was settled, but said he remains concerned about the wellbeing of his colleagues, FOX News reported.
“I am concerned for my co-workers I am leaving behind – the officers and civilians alike who continue to be victimized,” he said.
Chief Spagnoli, a self-described “change agent,” was hired as the agency’s top cop in 2016, the Los Angeles Times reported.
She was hailed as an experienced officer, who had previously served at the chief of two law enforcement agencies in northern California.
Chief Spagnoli has restructured the Beverly Hills police command staff structure, and implemented changes to the agency’s promotional and disciplinary procedures, garnering her praise from the city council and Mayor Julian Gold.
But despite all the glowing reviews from city officials, complaints of misconduct have been rolling in from the police department’s past and present employees over the past two years.
Allegations included claims that Spagnoli asked if she would be required to “dress Mexican” when a Latino employee invited her to dinner, and that she referred to Jewish yarmulkes as “funny little hats,” the Lost Angeles Times reported.
She has been accused of reacting with disgust and revulsion when she was informed that one of the agency’s employees was homosexual, and has allegedly engaged in sexual relationships with subordinate officers who she later rewarded with promotions.
Chief Spagnoli did not deny having made racist or anti-Semitic comments, but said she is “not racist,” according to the paper.
She vehemently denied allegations that she had sexual relationships with anyone on her staff.
“It hasn’t been easy running the department while under fire from different directions,” Chief Spagnoli lamented. “I’m disappointed at some of the personal attacks against me, particularly because I can tell you I love this community. I love being a key factor in public safety and making a difference.”
Chief Spagnoli said she was nothing more than the victim of dozens of Beverly Hills Police Department employees who are resistant to her reform policies.
“When you implement change, you create some waves within an organization, which is what has happened here,” she said.
Gold scoffed at the notion that the chief would ever make an anti-Semitic remark, and said she works with too many Jewish officials for such an allegation to “make any sense.”
“Of all the allegations, that is the one you really have to raise your eyebrow at,” Gold told the Los Angeles Times. “In the first place, we have 11 elected officials — five on the school board, five on the City Council and the city treasurer. They are all Jewish.”
“The notion she made anti-Semitic comments in that sort of environment does not make any sense,” the mayor added.