Police officers demoted, commissioner removed from duties

Police officers demoted, commissioner removed from duty

WESTMORLAND, Calif. - Westmorland City Council on Wednesday evening voted 4 – 1 to demote the three officers in the so-called Dream Team and to strip Police Commissioner Mary Ann Smith of her duties.

“I really thought I was doing the right thing. I was listening to the community. I felt I was doing what was right. We had three men running the department. Three men. They were getting so stretched and so drained,” Smith said.

Smith accepted that promoting officers on her own was against council rules.

“I took all of the evaluations, all of the resumes, their education, their post certificates,” Smith explained.

Council Member and former Brawley Police Chief Henry Graham questioned Smith’s credentials in the promotions.

“You guys with your vast experience of law enforcement, you made a decision to promote, reorganizing the entire police department and create a rank directly underneath the chief of police that never existed before,” Graham said.

Smith, with no police experience, publicly apologized for her actions.

“There’s not a lot of policies and procedures in place and that really worked against me,” Smith said.

Council Member Larry Ritchie read the council’s guidelines in order to make clear Smith’s wrongdoing to the public which packed the youth auditorium where the meeting was held.

“The law requires the council conduct city business only through duly convened meetings in full view of the public…and they made several secret meetings as we have witnessed. The council member may then lose certain protections and immunities and liabilities. His or her actions will easily be rescinded,” Rithie said.

Smith is now the commissioner for parks and recreation. She retains her seat in the council. Council Member Larry Ritchie is now Westmorland's Police Commissioner.

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