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Amid a slumping recruiting class, San Diego's police department faces gender discrimination lawsuit

Lawsuit says department showed bias as a result of an on-job injury

Zimmerman testified to city councilmembers about a shortage of uniformed police officers and slumping recruiting efforts.
Zimmerman testified to city councilmembers about a shortage of uniformed police officers and slumping recruiting efforts.

Days after San Diego's police chief Shelley Zimmerman testified to city councilmembers about a shortage of uniformed police officers and slumping recruiting efforts comes a new lawsuit accusing the department of discriminating against female recruits.

On May 2, former police recruit Kimberly Ludlam filed a lawsuit against the city for gender discrimination and for violating California's Fair and Equal Housing Act. She says that police brass treat female recruits differently than male recruits and are more accommodating in case of injuries while training.

Ludlam joined the San Diego Police Department in May 2014. Only weeks into training Ludlam injured her left shoulder during training exercises. An MRI later revealed a small fracture which required surgery. Ludlam was then transferred to the Central Telephone Reporting Unit in the force's Northwestern Division. In January of the following year Ludlam underwent arthroscopic surgery and was told not to do any heavy lifting.

In April 2015 police sergeant Manny Hernandez and two supervisors met with Ludlam and informed her that she would either need to hand in her resignation or accept a permanent position on the force's clerical department. Later that month Ludlam met with the department's director of human resources, Silvia Satrom. Hernandez and two high-ranking officers attended the meeting. Once again, they told Ludlam that the recruiting period could be no longer than one year and Ludlam had to either resign or take a clerical position. Ludlam rejected the two options and informed them that department policy allowed injured recruits time to heal before they were kicked out of the academy.

The following day she was handed a Notice of Failed Probation and asked to turn in all department-issued materials.

According to the lawsuit, Ludlam says the treatment is nothing new.

"[Ludlam] is informed and believes that other female police officer recruits have been similarly denied reasonable accommodations for their injuries at the Academy, and subsequently forced to re-class into a different city assignment or given a Notice of Failed Probation under the false guise that the department could not continue to pay them as police officer recruits given the length of time of their injuries."

In her complaint, Ludlam says she is aware of at least two female officers who were forced out due to injuries as well as numerous male officers who were allowed to extend their training due to injuries.

Ludlam is seeking damages for emotional distress, loss of wages, loss of health care benefits, other additional damages as well as attorney's fees.

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Zimmerman testified to city councilmembers about a shortage of uniformed police officers and slumping recruiting efforts.
Zimmerman testified to city councilmembers about a shortage of uniformed police officers and slumping recruiting efforts.

Days after San Diego's police chief Shelley Zimmerman testified to city councilmembers about a shortage of uniformed police officers and slumping recruiting efforts comes a new lawsuit accusing the department of discriminating against female recruits.

On May 2, former police recruit Kimberly Ludlam filed a lawsuit against the city for gender discrimination and for violating California's Fair and Equal Housing Act. She says that police brass treat female recruits differently than male recruits and are more accommodating in case of injuries while training.

Ludlam joined the San Diego Police Department in May 2014. Only weeks into training Ludlam injured her left shoulder during training exercises. An MRI later revealed a small fracture which required surgery. Ludlam was then transferred to the Central Telephone Reporting Unit in the force's Northwestern Division. In January of the following year Ludlam underwent arthroscopic surgery and was told not to do any heavy lifting.

In April 2015 police sergeant Manny Hernandez and two supervisors met with Ludlam and informed her that she would either need to hand in her resignation or accept a permanent position on the force's clerical department. Later that month Ludlam met with the department's director of human resources, Silvia Satrom. Hernandez and two high-ranking officers attended the meeting. Once again, they told Ludlam that the recruiting period could be no longer than one year and Ludlam had to either resign or take a clerical position. Ludlam rejected the two options and informed them that department policy allowed injured recruits time to heal before they were kicked out of the academy.

The following day she was handed a Notice of Failed Probation and asked to turn in all department-issued materials.

According to the lawsuit, Ludlam says the treatment is nothing new.

"[Ludlam] is informed and believes that other female police officer recruits have been similarly denied reasonable accommodations for their injuries at the Academy, and subsequently forced to re-class into a different city assignment or given a Notice of Failed Probation under the false guise that the department could not continue to pay them as police officer recruits given the length of time of their injuries."

In her complaint, Ludlam says she is aware of at least two female officers who were forced out due to injuries as well as numerous male officers who were allowed to extend their training due to injuries.

Ludlam is seeking damages for emotional distress, loss of wages, loss of health care benefits, other additional damages as well as attorney's fees.

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Comments
7

If Zimmerman really wants to solve this recruitment crisis, the first thing she could do is resign. That would allow the city, actually Kev-boy the "strong" mayor, to find someone who really knows how to run a PD. Someone like that would be hard to find, and harder to bring on board, and would NOT come from the SDPD ranks. (We've seen enough of that sort of progression to know that it doesn't work.)

The woman is an idiot; her daily pronouncements are an embarrassment to her and to the PD and to the city. About all we ever hear is that the SDPD doesn't pay enough to get the people it needs. Nowadays police forces pay very generously, and can have their pick of motivated young people. But why would a local candidate for a police career pick the SDPD, when he or she can apply to about two dozen other forces? The word does get out, and the best candidates apply to work in such forces as Carlsbad, La Mesa, CHP, and even for the Sheriff. No, it isn't a matter of money and benefits, it's a matter of leadership, something that has been lacking in the SDPD for too many years.

It's all sad because there are good cops, some really good cops, in that department. But in the ranks, there are some really bad ones, and nobody seems able to root them out. (My best example would be Arrevalos.) And then there are the incompetent investigations.

Time for a change at the top, a real change, and a new direction for the force.

May 5, 2017

Visduh: While I generally agree with your point of view on this matter, you left out that Zimmerman and Faulconer are more than employees of the City, they are close personal friends. Whether it's Faulconer and Zimmerman regularly jogging together, or her babysitting his kids, there's no way Zimmerman is leaving before the end of her Deferred Retirement Option Program, or DROP contract, which ends in about 11 months.

But what could be worse for the Department? Well, it highly likely that her personal friend and Mayor, Kevin Faulconer, will appoint Zimmerman as his new "Law Enforcement Laision" after she is forced to retire. When, not if, this happens, whoever is selected as the new Chief, will report to her. This of course means she'll be the new Chief's boss and it's really doubtful anything at all will improve at SDPD or for the citizens they serve.

This kind of corruption and institutional collusion between close personal friends is why SDPD's reputation has fallen. Once, considered the leader of innovative policing, SDPD has become a mediocre agency, with little, if anything to offer under its current Chief.

SDPD needs new blood, and real leadership, not friendship nepotism. These past few years have been a disaster and it's destined to deteriorate further from the leading agency it once was.

May 6, 2017

JW, it doesn't seem that you and I disagree at all. You mention some things I"d heard before, and had forgotten. And you fleshed out my reasons for thinking that a change is really, really needed. That even her overdue retirement will likely not make any changes is mildly terrifying. The overall situation in the city of SD just continues to deteriorate, just like its streets. I'm still waiting for Faulconer to take some of the action he's promised, during two election campaigns, to go to work on that infrastructure maintenance backlog (which is in the $ billions.) At best we've seen some token efforts in that direction.

May 6, 2017

Visduh: Check out the Editorial page of today's (5/6/17) SDUT. http://enewspaper.sandiegouniontribune.com/infinity/sdut/default.aspx?pubid=ee84df93-f3c1-463c-a82f-1ab095a198ca

There you'll find a piece on the so called on search for a replacement for Zimmerman. Make note, our Mayor has NOT included any funding for such a search. Mark my words, Zimmerman will slide in a new position, some akin to Law Enforcement Liaison or Public Safety Coordinator with the newly promoted Chief coming from the in-house ranks.

A hand picked sucsessor? Who knows, certainly not beyond questioning.

May 6, 2017

We actually subscribe to the shrunken rag, so I had the paper here. The U-T editorial page is full of surprises now; even two years ago it would not have been critical of anything Kev was doing.

But let me raise a point of caution. These "national searches" often fail to do the job. We've had them here in No County to fill school superintendent slots, and on more than one occasion got a real loser or fraud out of an expensive search firm. Those search agencies are good at finding carpet baggers who will roll into town, serve the three years of a contract, and then leave again without doing any of the things that needed to be done. Worse yet is when the carpet baggers manage to stay on for more years while furbishing their reputations, and then take off to greener pastures. As I said, getting the sort of chief the city needs would be hard to find and harder to recruit, and that's what the city needs to do. But if there's no real attempt made to get a competent chief, why spend the money on a national search that isn't going to get anyone worth having?

This is shaping up to be another hand-off such as happened with the sheriff, and is underway with the DA.

May 6, 2017

Agree with you both. Even if there's a national search, Kev-boy will reject the choice, deciding that it simply proved the "best candidate" was right here all along, as he can't risk an outsider exposing his politicizing this office. Though of course it's such an open secret that it's the real reason they can't recruit anyone to risk their career in the SDPD.

It's incredibly frustrating to see the corruption getting worse at both the county and city levels. Just when you think our elected misleaders can't go any lower, they manage to dig a sub-basement under rock bottom.

May 6, 2017

Cassander,

You, I and JW seem to be on the same page. You said what I think in a most concise and eloquent way.

May 7, 2017

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