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— Sullivan tells me he found Lansdowne to be quite forthcoming in testimony. "We were getting all kinds of good info, especially about the use of the pictures," he says.

In his letter to Mayor Sanders, Sullivan wrote that later in the hearing, "shortly after these revelations, the deputy city attorney representing the chief of police advised my counsel that the chief had an important luncheon engagement and would need a break. As a courtesy to the chief, my counsel agreed to reschedule the remaining portions of the chief's interview at a later date. That date has never occurred. The chief's office advised my counsel we would have to take the chief of police to court to finish the interview."

Sullivan says he didn't know ahead of the hearing that Lansdowne would need the so-called break. I ask him if shortly before the deputy city attorney announced the break, the chief's lawyers were whispering in his ear. "They were," he tells me, "but we had no idea what it was all about. We did notice that the attorneys were grimacing a lot at what he was telling us."

Mayor Sanders did not respond to Sullivan's letter. Eventually, the sergeant did go to court seeking a continuation of the hearing. In January of this year, Judge Judith Hayes ordered the police chief to finish the hearing and to release Sullivan's promotional file. But "in an apparent act of defiance to the judge's order," Sullivan claims, "only half of my promotional file has been delivered."

On June 15, Sullivan completed his administrative appeal hearing in the police chief's office. This time, assistant chief Howard Kendall, who was not an assistant chief at the time the promotions were made, was the hearing officer. Less than a month later, on July 10, Kendall responded with a denial of the appeal. In explaining his decision, he told Sullivan that "the identity of the person or group making promotional decisions has nothing to do with whether you were denied promotion on grounds other than merit." But Kendall did not address how little merit-based information the chiefs used when they made promotional choices.

Sullivan argues that the role of the assistant chiefs and their selection method violated the settlement terms of the Police Officers Association lawsuit. On July 23, he wrote back to Kendall. In a point-by-point recitation, he painted a picture of the assistant chiefs committee usurping the primary role of the police promotions board. The way the process ought to work, according to the city's appointing authority manual, is that the promotions board is to recommend officers for promotion. The board is to decide on the basis of merit determined by written tests, oral interviews, and work history and evaluations. It can take community and department needs into consideration too.

According to San Diego Police Officers Association president Bill Nemec, "Nothing forbids the chief from accepting the advice of others in making his determination." Nevertheless, argued Sullivan in the letter to Kendall, "the addition of the chiefs executive committee [between promotions board and chief] seriously compromised the integrity of the promotional process." He later tells me that their role in the 2004 selections was not to advise the chief. "They made the selections for the chief," he says.

Sullivan contended in his response to Kendall that as a result of leaving out the promotions board, which takes promotional ratings into consideration, "no merit-based promotional information was ever used by the [chiefs executive committee] during the selection process." Prior to his second hearing, Sullivan thought that the assistant chiefs had at least used candidates' promotional ratings in making their choices. I listen to a recording of the June 15 appeal hearing. Sullivan is questioning Patrick Drummy, the police department's director of administrative services and human resources. Drummy tells a different story. The day the chiefs executive committee decided the promotions, Drummy states, "The [committee] doesn't know what the ratings are."

This made it more likely that the committee would use "pictures of candidates in a discriminatory manner," argued Sullivan in his letter to Kendall. The appointing authority manual, he said, does not authorize such use of pictures. "One candidate's picture showed him with the long hair and scruffy beard he wore as an undercover cop," Sullivan tells me. The picture he shows me does have the appearance of a scraggly hippie.

In the letter to assistant chief Kendall, Sullivan speculates that "the chiefs executive committee selections matched a promotional formula." The successful 1996 California ballot proposition 209 forbids discriminating against persons in public employment on the basis of race. I call Scott Fulkerson, executive director of the police Citizens' Review Board. Fulkerson says he does not recognize the term "promotional formula" but assures me that currently "affirmative action is being practiced in no city department."

"Why then," asks Sullivan, "did the chiefs use the pictures, which have no legitimate role in the promotion-selection process? The way it was explained to me was that Chief Lansdowne, a newcomer to the department, needed the pictures to get acquainted with the officers. But why did every assistant chief and the lawyer need to have the pictures too?"

In the end, wrote Sullivan, "the chiefs executive committee selected a less qualified candidate than myself." That candidate, according to Sullivan, is the officer responsible for what has become well known on the police-department grapevine as "Late-Case-Gate." Sullivan does not know her departmental rating, but he claims she was less qualified by virtue of experience, not to mention her performance in the late-case scandal. Assistant chief Kendall, however, wrote in his appeal-denial letter that "there is no evidence that the Chief of Police knew the information [about the late-case debacle] at the time he made the promotional decisions."

Sullivan's letter to Kendall brings up additional points relating to retaliation. Given his participation in the San Diego Police Officers Association lawsuit, Sullivan wrote, the chiefs were negligent in failing "to report and investigate [my] allegations of discrimination and retaliation." He added that "the department has a history of retaliating against officers who file discrimination complaints."

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