The California Highway Patrol will pay almost $1 million to settle a lawsuit from a former chief who said he was retaliated against for making an unwelcome bid for the top job and publicizing activities he believed to be improper, reports the Sacramento Bee. The $995,000 settlement was made public just as a new element of the department’s treatment of former Deputy Chief Art Acevedo came to light. A private investigator hired by the state tailed Acevedo in early 2007 to find out whether he was leaking information to the Bee.
Acevedo, now police chief of Austin, Tx., bucked the patrol establishment in 2004 when he applied to become commissioner at a time when then-Commissioner Dwight Helmick was considered vulnerable. Helmick was forced out a few months later by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. In his lawsuit, Acevedo said he suffered retaliation for trying to become commissioner and reporting questionable actions by the patrol, including allowing officers to stay on past the mandatory retirement age of 60 to spike their pensions. The episode about investigating possible news leaks struck State Sen. Gloria Romero as bizarre and irresponsible. “These kinds of things happen in Russia, not California,” she said.