BEVERLY HILLS—It was announced on Saturday, April 25 by the city of Beverly Hills, that Sandra Spagnoli, the Police Chief for the Beverly Hills Police Department would be retiring from her position. Her last day will be May 15. According to reports, Spagnoli was informed she had until Friday, April 24 to resign from her position or face termination.
“During the Chief’s tenure, crime was reduced while the department increased diversity, public outreach, best practices and advancements in technology,” said Chavez. “We thank Chief Spagnoli for her service to our community and her three decades of public service in law enforcement.”
The city of Beverly Hills and the BHPD has been plagued with lawsuits during Spagnoli’s tenure as Police Chief.
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Lisa Weller, an employee with the Beverly Hills Police Department back in January 2020.
Weller alleged she was demoted from Traffic Control Supervisor to the position of Traffic Control Officer because of her age and sexual orientation.
In ruling on the City’s Motion for Summary Judgment, the courts found:
“There is no evidence the plaintiff was replaced in the position of Traffic Control Supervisor by a significantly younger person. The undisputed evidence shows that City of Beverly Hills restructured its traffic and parking departments, and then placed sworn peace officers as supervisors of Traffic Control Officers.”
The Court determined that “[The] plaintiff did not meet her burden to show that there was such a denial [of pay and benefits], let alone that any such denial was due to the plaintiff’s age or sexual orientation.”
“We are pleased with the ruling by Judge Martin,” said Beverly Hills City Attorney Laurence S. Wiener. “The City of Beverly Hills believed the case was without merit and remains committed to a respectful work environment free from harassment, retaliation and discrimination.
This is not the first case filed against the BHPD for discrimination or harassment. A Los Angeles jury upheld allegations of harassment and retaliation against Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli in July 2019.
Spagnoli who was accused by her co-workers of workplace harassment and discrimination was not found guilty of discrimination. The jury did not find any evidence of discrimination against any of the plaintiffs, but determined that Spagnoli’s remarks were of a hostile nature in the Moreno v. City of Beverly Hills case.
After three days of deliberation, the jury awarded Lieutenants Michael Foxen, Shan Davis, Renato Moreno, and a civilian employee named Dona Norris $1.1 million. Lt. Moreno was awarded $350,000 while the other co-plaintiffs were awarded $250,000 each. Originally each plaintiff in the Moreno v. City of Beverly Hills case demanded more than $20 million to be awarded to them.
At least 21 current and former employees filed civil lawsuits or employee complaints against Chief Spagnoli. According to the lawsuit, Spagnoli reacted with disgust when she discovered that Norris was not heterosexual. She asked Lt. Moreno if she should “dress Mexican” for a party he invited her to.
The city of Beverly Hills paid $2.3 million in December 2018 to settle claims made by Captain Mark Rosen. Rosen accused Spagnoli of making anti-Semitic remarks about him and claims she denied him opportunity because of his religion. Both Lt. Foxen and Moreno said they were reprimanded by Spagnoli for giving statements that favored Rosen’s case.
“The City is pleased that the jury found no discrimination against any of the plaintiffs. The City disagrees with the jury’s finding that alleged statements of Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli rose to the level of harassment or retaliation. The City remains committed to the police chief and her efforts to reform the department, and condemns those who are undermining those efforts, as was revealed in the trial.
In a separate matter, the city announced today that it has settled an age discrimination lawsuit brought by Clark Fogg, a member of the staff of the Beverly Hills Police Department’s forensic laboratory. Under the terms of the settlement, Fogg will receive a $300,000 payment and retire from the department.
The City of Beverly Hills remains committed to a BHPD that upholds the highest ideals of fairness, dignity, equality, and provides a positive work environment for all. The City is equally committed to continuing the significant improvements that Chief Spagnoli has brought to the Police Department including the addition of officers, enhancements in training, an increase in diversity, and greater public outreach,” said the city of Beverly Hills in a statement.
Judge Elizabeth R. Feffer of the Los Angeles Superior Court overturned a jury verdict that awarded damages to former Beverly Hills Police Lieutenant, Shan Davis in October 2019. Davis was individually awarded $250,000 by the jury. On October 11, 2019, Judge Feffer ruled that there was no evidence to support the verdict, overruling the jury’s decision. She concluded that Davis did not prevail, would not be awarded any damages, and “a new judgment is entered in favor of the City of Beverly Hills.”
Spagnoli became the first female police chief in Beverly Hills starting her official duties in 2016, after assuming the position from, David Snowden.
“I am grateful to have served Beverly Hills and proud of the accomplishments over the past 4 years to keep this world-class community one of the safest in the nation,” said Chief Spagnoli.
Chavez will name an Interim Police Chief for the Police Department in the coming weeks.
Written By Anita Brown and Casey Jacobs