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Five Glendale police officers promoted, including sergeant involved in lawsuit

Chief won't discuss the advancement of sergeant involved in lawsuit.

November 14, 2013|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Five Glendale police officers, including a sergeant involved in an ongoing federal discrimination lawsuit against the Police Department, were promoted Wednesday to higher-ranking positions.

Sgts. Tigran Topadzhikyan and John Gilkerson as well as Officers Scott Holmes, Ernesto Gaxiola and Alex Krikorian were placed at the top of promotion lists and were honored in front of family members, friends and fellow police officers, who packed a room at the Glendale Police Department headquarters.

Topadzhikyan came in first on a promotion list for a lieutenant's position — a rank he has tirelessly worked to get, but, according to his U.S. District Court lawsuit, was passed over for previously.

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Still, on Wednesday, Topadzhikyan said he was eager to start his new position as the department's new west Glendale area commander.

“I look forward to continuing to serve the community and the city of Glendale,” Topadzhikyan said. “I am excited in accepting my new role and providing the best service I can to our community.”

In a joint federal lawsuit, which has been scheduled to go to trial next week, he and Officers Robert Parseghian, Vahak Mardikian, John Balian and former Officer Benny Simonzad claim they suffered on-the-job discrimination, retaliation and harassment because they're Armenian. The officers also claimed they were looked over for promotions and denied career-building opportunities.

Glendale Police Chief Ron De Pompa dismissed claims the promotion was connected to Topadzhikyan's lawsuit, adding that it “had nothing to do with it.”

The promotions, he said, were necessary because two lieutenants plan to retire in December.

“Decisions to retire are solely those of the employees that are retiring, so it is was it is,” De Pompa said. “If people make something out of a coincidence of the fact that a promotion is occurring at proximity to a trial starting that is not my issue and not my department's issue ... We do the right thing for the right reasons and as soon as we had the opportunity to promote, we did.”

The promotions were a long time coming for some of the officers who tested for the new posts two years ago and waited for an opportunity to move into more supervisory roles.

The new leadership comes as the agency prepares to welcome new police chief Robert Castro, who will be leaving his post with the Glendora Police Department and replacing De Pompa on Dec. 16.

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