Judge will review internal LAPD documents in captain's retaliation suit

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A veteran Los Angeles police captain assigned to help oversee the policing of Metro subway lines and buses won a round in court Monday in his lawsuit alleging he was reprimanded for a trivial matter in retaliation for complaining that some personnel within his unit were being used for work unrelated to transportation duties.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gail Killefer said during a hearing Monday that she will conduct an in-chambers review of internal LAPD documents on April 13 related to Capt. Brian Pratt's whistleblower complaints of misappropriation of funds by a deputy chief and commander, as well as Pratt's allegation that he suffered retaliation as a result of coming forward. The judge will then decide which documents are relevant and should be turned over to the plaintiff's attorneys.

Pratt was hired in 1988 and was promoted to captain in June 2011, then upgraded to captain III in June 2013, the suit filed in July 2021 states.

The city of Los Angeles was awarded a five-year, $370 million contract with Metro in February 2017 to provide LAPD officers to patrol Metro subway lines and buses within the city. The LAPD established a Transit Services Bureau and a Transit Services Division within the bureau.

Pratt began serving as the Captain III of the Transit Services Division in March of 2017, the suit states. In early 2019, Deputy Chief Blake Chow became the TSB commanding officer, according to the suit. Chow and Commander Michael Oreb, the TSB assistant commanding officer, took multiple transit employees being paid by MTA to perform work for the agency and used them for jobs that "did not relate to MTA at all," the suit states.

In one example, Chow and Oreb used a lieutenant who received a full salary and benefits package from MTA worth approximately $507,655 to perform such non-MTA work as traffic group and division projects and the review of traffic group personnel complaints, Pratt's attorneys state in their court papers.

Pratt began complaining about the alleged misuse of the employees one or two times a month beginning in February 2019, according to his suit.

In July 2020, Pratt found out for the first time that Oreb had initiated a masked personnel complaint against him for a "trivial matter" in December 2019, the suit states. Pratt believes the complaint, the subject of which is not detailed in the suit, prevented him from being promoted to commander.

In addition, Pratt learned in October 2020 that the LAPD placed his name on the Officer and Recurrent Witness Information Tracking System list four months earlier, before he was interviewed concerning Oreb's personnel complaint against him, the suit states. The tracking system ORWITS contains the names of peace officers who have been accused of making false statements and is accessible by government agencies, according to the suit.

Having his name in ORWITS will adversely impact Pratt's ability to obtain employment opportunities outside the LAPD, the suit states.

In November 2020, Chow sustained the allegation against Pratt and the next month the LAPD officially reprimanded him based on the complaint that was placed in his personnel file and will harm his ability to obtain post- retirement employment, according to the suit.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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