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Inside Moves, Take 2

As many readers may know, last week I wrote about former Fort Bragg Police Chief Scott Mayberry having falsely accused a fellow Fort Bragg PD officer of leaking an official incident report. Near the end of that article I recounted attempts to contact Mayberry himself then the Mendocino County District Attorney's office. Mayberry is now employed as an investigator for the DA. Given that the first email I sent out was Friday, December 26th, I was pleasantly surprised to find a response from Mike Geniella that very afternoon. The content of the email (see December 31st AVA) was short and rather dismissive of the charge against Mayberry. I followed-up with further questions:

“1) Was the position that Mayberry filled publicly noticed or simply a one-on-one agreement between the DA and Scott Mayberry? 2) Did anyone working for the DA's office question the current or longtime officers at Fort Bragg PD concerning their working relationships with Scott Mayberry? If so, how much weight was this given in the hiring process? 3) Was Scott Mayberry offered the position as a DA's investigator, formally or informally, before he went on leave from the Fort Bragg PD in early July? Or before he publicly resigned in August?”

I concluded with an additional query regarding Mr. Mayberry's health:

“At a December, 2014 Fort Bragg City Council meeting Scott Mayberry stated that approximately a year ago a physician advised him (Mayberry) that he needed six months away from work to recuperate. Mayberry further claimed that his time off in July, and possibly August, was not recuperative because he had to deal with constant questions about why he was away from work and what he described as underhanded, disrespectful treatment by Fort Bragg city staff. Why then was a man with obvious health issues hired by the DA's office in September? Were provisions built-in to his first months on the job to give him a light work load or did he start in full time in September?”

A day later (Saturday, December 27th), Geniella wrote: "The DA's Office is not going to comment on speculation, and unsubtantiated [sic] reports of misconduct. Mayberry's experience and skills were well known to DA Dave Eyster and his team of DA investigators, the best in Mendocino County law enforcement. Coast residents now have an experienced DA investigator on site. The public benefits are large."

Before completing the Dec. 31st piece I took note of the “unsubstantiated” comment: “[I]f Eyster or his team had done any kind of thorough investigating themselves within the Fort Bragg PD they would have uncovered ample substantiation.”

Anyone who has seen the online version of my December 31st piece will have also noticed Mike Geniella's comment:

1. Investigator Mayberry was hired provisionally in September with the understanding that the provisional appointment was temporary and that he would have to compete against other applicants who would respond to the job opening announcement that was publicly posted. Those qualified went through an evaluation and interview process. Mayberry was hired full-time on December 21, and now has to complete a one-year probation period.

2. All investigators ultimately hired by the DA’s Office, which includes Investigator Mayberry, are required to undergo a background and employment investigation by a private background investigator who does all peace officer background and employment investigations for the DA. This is the same type of investigation that all peace officers are required to submit to when they are being considered for employment as a peace officer for all agencies other than the District Attorney. This confidential investigation is done prior to a final hiring decision in compliance with POST standards. Such background checks are not done in-house so as to prevent the stacking of the deck.

3. Investigator Mayberry was not approached about nor was he informally/formally offered employment by the District Attorney prior to his going on leave from the FBPD.

4. The first employment application from Investigator Mayberry expressing interest in the DA’s open investigator position was submitted August 25, 2014. I don’t know the date he resigned from FBPD.

5. Investigator Mayberry was required to have “return to work” authorization from his doctor prior to coming to work for the DA. He was also required to pass a POST-mandated medical screening, which he passed. [Though unexplained by Mr. Geniella, POST is an acronym for Police Officer Standards and Training.]

6. By the very nature of the job, the initial month or two of a new investigator employment is lighter in workload than that of a longer-termed investigator. This is especially true for a provisional, temporary employee. This is due to the transition into the investigator position, not the individual who obtained the position. The speed of transition is left to the discretion of the Chief Investigator, Kevin Bailey.

First, let me address the dismay Mr. Geniella expressed in a December 30th phone conversation, dismay that I did not apprise him of my deadline date during our email exchanges on December 26th and 27th. "The DA's Office is not going to comment on speculation, and unsubtantiated [sic] reports of misconduct,” sounded pretty final to me. I did not expect anything further, on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. I'm glad the DA did respond, through Mr. Geniella, but it was too late for the December 31st edition of the AVA due to an early New Year's deadline.

More important is the content of the Eyster/Geniella responses. One of them claims that Mr. Mayberry was not offered a job with the DA's office nor even approached about said position prior to his going on leave from the Fort Bragg PD. Well, then, why the sam hill were folks talking about Mayberry doing that very same thing well before last July when Mayberry did take his leave? The answer may very well lie with Mayberry himself. Multiple sources heard Mayberry boast or threaten to leave Fort Bragg PD for a better paying job a year ago. Pretty much any time even the loneliest voice of criticism popped up, a standard Mayberry defense was to say he (Mayberry) could go back to his old job at the Redding PD or somewhere else in a valley town. Perhaps Mayberry was approached by one of the Assistant District Attorneys rather than Eyster himself. If DA Eyster didn't know that Mayberry was angling for a DA's investigator post well before his resignation from the Fort Bragg PD, then Eyster sure wasn't in the loop.

The crucial question is in regard to the background investigation done for the DA before Mayberry was hired. When asked on the phone precisely who performed this investigation, Eyster's spokesman, Mike Geniella, said he didn't know. This occurred after Geniella insisted that any such investigation was thorough enough. Everything in that conversation, from Geniella's tone to the insistence that this was a good background investigation despite the fact he didn't know who conducted the investigation added up to something akin to a petulant contempt for any lowly creature who dared to sally forth with a query about Mr. Eyster's methodology. This mindset is consistent with the style of thinking that states any charge concerning former Chief Mayberry making false allegations against one of his officers must be unsubstantiated and, furthermore, is certainly unsubstantiated because it wasn't investigated.

This is a priceless bit of circular logic. Mr. Geniella went on to say that the DA's investigation of Mayberry didn't include any look-see about Mayberry falsely charging a fellow officer with leaking official reports because no one brought that matter up to the investigator(s). Beside the fact that the matter was brought up in a June, 2013 AVA article, there's, again, the mistaken logic that the DA's pre-hire investigation could only seek out information brought to the investigators. We, the reading public, are left to ponder whether or not all Mendocino County DA investigators pursue each and every case thataway, waiting for the public to bring the evidence to them. Of course, they don't, investigators go out and investigate, they dig things up that might not always be obvious on the surface. To say that Eyster's outside investigator(s) conducted a thorough examination of the current members of the Fort Bragg PD concerning Scott Mayberry's time there as police chief is factually preposterous. To claim that the DA's office didn't need to investigate because private citizens didn't bring the specific documentation to Eyster or his investigator's attention is ludicrous. For one thing it suggests what was already stated above, that a DA investigator doesn't really investigate or that Mr. Eyster expects a citizen or citizens to violate the sanctity of Fort Bragg PD personnel files to bring forth evidence – the warped logic here is surreal, perhaps Orwellian. Here's all you need/needed to do, Mr. Eyster: have your investigator sit down with every Fort Bragg PD officer. Sooner or later you'll find the aggrieved party/parties. The simple truth is, that was not done.

Right now, what readers and voters need to know – bottom line – you have a District Attorney who does not believe in conducting full background checks on potential hires. Much like Mr. Mayberry cried foul/wolf when things went awry for him as Fort Bragg PD Chief, the DA cries foul when someone, anyone, dares point out that he didn't really do his job fully and correctly.

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