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Reinstated officer: Vegas joy ride was 'stupid'

Reinstated officer gave an account of the prank in interviews published in court documents.

September 19, 2011|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

The only Glendale police officer to retain his job after taking a joy ride with two other officers to Las Vegas told investigators the incident was a “stupid prank” that he regretted, according to court documents.

Last week, the Civil Service Commission voted 4 to 1 to reinstate police officer Patrick Hamblin after he was fired in March. But they voted 3 to 2 uphold earlier decisions to let go of officers Fernando Salmeron and Michael Ullerich, who had worked with Hamblin in the Community Policing Unit.

A week before taking the trip, Hamblin reportedly joked about the possible prank because the officers had previously mulled taking photographs in front a Home Depot as part of a work-related project.

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According to the court documents, Hamblin said they hadn’t planned to do anything with the Vegas photographs, other than to use them to say they went.

“Going out there, I remember a couple of spots where I thought ‘This is completely stupid. We shouldn’t be doing this,’” Hamblin said in court documents. “And I never voiced those. I wish I had.”

The interviews, part of an internal investigation, were included in a preliminary injunction the officers filed in May in Los Angeles County Superior Court, but that was later dropped in June. Police officials have declined to discuss the matter, citing personnel privacy rules.

A report on why the Civil Service Commission decided to reinstate Hamblin, and not the other two officers, is due in mid-October. Hamblin must still serve a 90-day work suspension without pay.

According to the court documents, on Dec. 27, Hamblin, Salmeron and Ullerich drove about 269 miles to Nevada in their sergeant’s city-owned Chevy Impala to photograph themselves and the car in front of the Vegas sign at the south end entrance of the infamous strip, according to court documents.

The officers were on-duty and supposed to be working 10-hour shifts.

During their drive, they were stopped by a Nevada state trooper for speeding — once on the way there, and once on the return trip, each time by the same officer who let them off with a warning, according to court records.

Meanwhile, their supervising sergeant tried repeatedly to reach the men by phone, but it wasn’t until their return trip that they noticed the missed calls. When Salmeron called the sergeant back, he panicked and told him they were in Redondo Beach, according to the court records.

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