A former Modesto police reserve officer is suing the city, claiming he was unfairly terminated when he was laid off last year.
Patrick Speckmann, 36, says he was laid off even though he had more seniority and better performance evaluations than other reserve officers, according to court filings.
Speckmann is seeking unspecified damages in a breach of contract lawsuit against the city and the Modesto Police Department. Speckmann says he was "blackballed" and targeted for "termination" after nearly 11 years of service with the Police Department.
Acting Police Chief Mike Harden and senior Deputy City Attorney Jim Wilson said they couldn't comment on the lawsuit.
Speckmann claims in his lawsuit that he was laid off in part because he raised concerns about "an alleged police cover-up." Court documents don't explain the cover-up allegations.
Speckmann was one of five reserve officers laid off in March. Three months before his firing, Speckmann received an "excellent" performance evaluation. When he was laid off, he was the third-most senior of the department's 19 reserve officers, according to court documents.
Reserve officers are part-time police officers who work primarily supporting full-time officers, said Modesto police spokesman Sgt. Brian Findlen. They respond to calls for service only if they're accompanied by a full-time police officer. They wear the same uniforms and carry the same equipment as full-time officers. Speckmann graduated from the police academy and completed field training with the Police Department.
In court filings, Speckmann says he received positive performance evaluations year after year and was given increasing levels of responsibility during his tenure with the Police Department.
Speckmann's firing happened four months before the Police Department laid off nine full-time officers. Those layoffs came at the end of a face-off between the city and the 202-member Modesto Police Officers Association. The city wanted the union to defer raises for one year to save $820,000 and prevent layoffs. The union refused.
Less than a month later, the city won a $4.4 million federal grant and rehired the full-time officers it laid off.
Bee staff writer Leslie Albrecht can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2378. Follow her at Twitter.com/ BeeReporter.