PUBLIC HEARING ON November 10, 2020 AT 7:00 PM PST
BROADMOOR, California – The Broadmoor Police Department, officially known as the Broadmoor Police Protection District, is facing a series of scandals. Former San Francisco Police Deputy Chief Michael P. Connolly served as an elected police commissioner of the Broadmoor Police Department. Broadmoor Police is a small department patrolling an unincorporated area of San Mateo County outside the border of San Francisco. Connolly used his elected position to persuade the department to take actions that would directly benefit him and his close friends financially. The sequence of events to cover up his misconduct is now the subject matter of at least four officers planning to sue the department for violations of California’s Brown Act, whistleblower protection, and workplace discrimination laws. Despite all attempts by officers for the commission to take action, they have ignored all pleas.
On March 12, 2019, while still an elected board member, Connolly forced the board to vote on an item not on the scheduled agenda1 – voting him to become the next paid police chief of Broadmoor. Connolly reopened a closed meeting at 9:35 PM and forced a clandestine vote, when members of the public had left the meeting, securing his position to begin promptly after his retirement from SFPD in May 2019. Connolly remained on the board for two more months following this vote and voted on items such as the department’s budget, which consisted of his future salary, among other action items. Connolly even voted on a tax increase of 5% during a resolution on May 14, 2019, which would later contribute to Connolly’s raise and spending spree. This was all in severe violation of California’s strict conflict of interest laws. Connolly, the Chairman of the commission, purposely did not conduct an adequate search for a police chief despite his promises from the prior year to do so. This case resembles a similar case in which another police chief recently pled guilty for rigging the department’s
search for its chief of police.
Over the following year, Connolly undertook significant spending initiatives designed to benefit him and his closest friends. Despite the budget calling for a salary of $150,000 for the chief of police, Connolly had that increased to $160,000 annually. Further, Connolly launched a massive initiative to hire his closest friends and allies. Many of these individuals were hired as reserve officers and promptly promoted without any formal process and disregarding the department’s existing reserve officers. While reserve officers of the department historically volunteered their time due to budgetary constraints of the agency and claim the agency could not afford to pay them, Connolly elected to pay substantial wages to his closest friends and allies who were also reserves. Reserves were concerned that despite these new officers holding the same positions as the existing reserves, with the same
assignments, the new officers were paid while the existing officers were disregarded. When reserves brought this discriminatory practice to Connolly’s attention he stated, “if somebody stabs me in the back, I will break their arm and use that knife in unthinkable ways.” The following day Connolly made retaliatory policy changes to lower the status of unpaid reserves to further differentiate them from his allies.
More troubling is the plagued history of the staff Connolly has brought to the department, all personally known to Connolly himself. Commander Patrick Tobin, Connolly’s second in command, has a history of racial bias and substantial recorded use of homophobic and transphobic rhetoric during his tenure in San Francisco. Tobin has been the subject matter of numerous news stories, litigation, and disciplinary action by SFPD.4 Coincidentally, despite Tobin coming from the same station already accused of harassing Muslim officers, Connolly and Tobin have begun a retaliation campaign now against at least two separate reserve officers of middle eastern descent at Broadmoor for bringing light to authorities about the ongoing corruption at the department. On the violent side of the spectrum, Connolly hired former Sonoma State University Chief of Police Nathan Johnson. Mr. Johnson was accused of stabbing his stepson multiple times in the chest with a power drill and firing his department firearm. Mr. Johnson was ousted from his department subsequent to the allegations, however being a longtime friend of Connolly, he was hired at Broadmoor.
The department’s former Chief of Police, David Parenti, who remained a paid employee of the department, discussed concerns about mismanagement of public funds with the department’s police commissioners. Those commissioners reported this discussion to Connolly. On July 19, 2020, Commissioner Sylvia Koh advised Parenti that Connolly would be speaking to him the following day
to work on ways to resolve the fiscal issues – Koh assured Parenti he was not being terminated for his whistleblowing. However, on July 20, 2020, Parenti was terminated by Connolly, told that his whistleblower report of gross mismanagement was “insubordination,” and he could no longer trust Parenti. California State law has determined that a police protection district’s board is in charge of employment issues and given that Commissioner Koh misrepresented the conversation to be had it was apparent this was sanctioned by the board.
Subsequently, members of the public submitted public records requests to obtain information about the department’s finances. The department stated that such documents did not exist. Interestingly enough, one such document, the department’s trial balance sheet, will finally see the light of day on November 10 during the department’s commission meeting – over three months after it was requested. Further, upon the inaction of the Commission, and the ongoing hunt and termination of whistleblowers, officers submitted whistleblower complaints to the State Auditor’s Office and the Fair Political Practices Commission. Connolly is currently under investigation by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission. (http://www.fppc.ca.gov Case 2020-00794) The department’s commission has still elected not to suspend Connolly pending this investigation.
Numerous officers made grievances to police commissioners since July 2020. Commissioners instead ignored all requests or concerns and allowed Connolly to have free reign. One such concern was an officer reporting that after the department’s finances were in question, Connolly started liquidating department assets to replenish funds that have been frivolously spent. The officer reported about firearms, including assault weapons, that were sold in violation of the law. Assault weapons from evidence can only be destroyed. Instead, Connolly sold such weapons for substantial amounts. Again, the commission ignored the officer and allowed Connolly to cover up his actions. Instead of addressing the assault weapons being sold by the department illegally, the Commission allowed Connolly to investigate his own misconduct which he used as an opportunity to take attention off himself. Connolly then fabricated cases against officers, particularly one of middle eastern descent, alleging stolen firearms. Connolly sent the case to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office for further investigation and prosecution, while withholding critical evidence, such as photograph evidencing that the firearms in question had been destroyed long before Connolly assumed office.
Connolly had total compensation of $351,534.47 at SFPD in 2018. In 2019, only five months into the year, Connolly received a total compensation package of $307,258.99. Connolly’s retirement is estimated to be over $250,000 annually with the benefit of annual increases. Connolly currently makes approximately $160,000 annually in violation of conflict of interest statutes, making his total combined annual income over $400,000 annually.
Broadmoor is the last operational police protection district in the State of California. Broadmoor’s Police Commission holds public monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of every month. The next meeting will be held on November 10, 2020, at 388 Eighty-Eighth Street, Broadmoor, CA 94015. Members of the public and media are allowed to attend.
Contact: Litigation Communications