Sex, Lies and Videotape

Stephen Downing

It is a well-accepted fact among police administrators that the field training officer (FTO) is one of the most important positions in any police department. The FTO must be a positive role model who leads by example and exhibits integrity, honesty, and ethical behavior.

The FTO’s obligation is to instruct the trainee in department policy and procedures with a focus on values while teaching real life lessons that will have a profound impact on the trainee’s success. In short, the FTO’s trainees become a product of what they are taught and the behavior that is demonstrated to them.

According to multiple sources within the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD), Field Training Officer (FTO) Lisa McCourt – and quite possibly multiple other FTOs – has failed to carry out that vital responsibility.

FTO McCourt’s first failure was to allegedly engage in an intimate relationship with her trainee. Not only is this kind of behavior a moral, ethical and role model failure, but also one that exposes the taxpayer to sexual harassment lawsuits.

The law recognizes that a sexual relationship between a superior and a subordinate is inherently unequal and coercive.

Thus, the Long Beach taxpayer is exposed to paying out thousands – if not millions of dollars – if McCourt’s relationship with her trainee fractures and turns into a complaint or lawsuit – much like the recently reported breakup between Councilwoman Pearce and her subordinate chief of staff, Devin Cotter, which reportedly cost the city thousands in a “separation agreement” crafted by the city attorney.

But, McCourt’s harm to the law enforcement profession allegedly goes much deeper. Beachcomber sources within the LBPD allege that she became aware of the fact that multiple (as many as 15 to 20) rookie officers from Recruit Academy Class #90 recently attended a private party fueled by prostitutes and hard drugs and that she subsequently came into possession of evidence of the criminal activity and chose not to report it – until it proved useful to her as a tool of retaliation.

The LBPD sources allege that evidence of the degenerate party included a video that featured Trainee Officer Grant Potter snorting a line of cocaine, while other LBPD officers looked on.

The video was reportedly distributed among a select group of rookie officers and others in a (misplaced) spirit of camaraderie and text-message banter that eventually came to FTO McCourt’s attention and into her possession.

But, the LBPD sources stated that it wasn’t until Officer Potter chose to report McCourt’s improper liaison with her trainee that she chose to use the photographic evidence as a means of retaliation rather than duty. Allegedly, it was only then that she turned it over to the LBPD administration.

On Sept. 7, LBPD sources told the Beachcomber that “many days later” LBPD brass elected to push Officer Potter for a resignation rather than launch an administrative and criminal investigation aimed at termination and prosecution.

We are told that, after having resigned, Potter was escorted by supervisors out the LBPD’s South Station this past Monday, Sept. 4.

After the Beachcomber sent several emails and made multiple phone calls to the LBPD that outlined the nature of the alleged scandal and asked for a response, Chief Robert Luna’s Chief of Staff, Commander Paul LeBaron, responded late this morning.

The commander acknowledged that allegations of the nature outlined by the Beachcomber were brought to the department’s attention “approximately two weeks ago” and that they “recently opened an investigation.”

When asked why Officer Potter was allowed to resign, the commander would neither confirm nor deny that the officer had in fact resigned, saying that to do so would “impact the integrity of the investigation.”

Asked if the LBPD considered the ramifications of accepting a resignation – i.e. not being able to interview the officer and learn the source of the cocaine (street dealer, officer dealer, drug squad, theft from property room, etc.) – or the extent of involvement by other officers, the commander stated that to respond to the question “would likewise affect the integrity of the investigation” and declined further comment.

When asked if the commander understood the import of allowing a POST certified (Peace Officer Standards and Training) officer to remain available to be hired by any California law enforcement agency, he had no comment other than to suggest that he had a “legal” responsibility to protect the “recently launched investigation.”

Queried about the duty status of FTO McCourt (assigned to home, assigned administrative duties, still on the street or working with her trainee), the commander at first declined to respond for the same reasons, but later offered to make inquiry within the department to ascertain whether it would be permissible to reveal that information – as well as to confirm the status of Officer Potter.

The commander declined to discuss the duty status or the scope of the investigation regarding other trainee officers, their FTOs or the time frame in which the formal investigation was launched.

When the Beachcomber made the call to the LBPD on Sept.7 we hoped that their response would be full disclosure, like that demonstrated by the LAPD’s Chief Charlie Beck when his cadet program recently went upside down in scandal.

Beck’s response was full disclosure from the first day and it continued day-to-day until his community was fully assured that its department was transparent, on top of the problem, weeding out those who needed weeding out – and most importantly – that he had the trust of his community.

In an email follow up to the Beachcomber’s questions LBPD Sgt. Brad Johnson, media relations, wrote that “Officer Lisa McCourt is assigned to the patrol bureau and works as a patrol officer handling calls for service” and “Grant Potter is no longer employed with the City of Long Beach.”

Editors Note: This report was updated Friday morning, Sept. 8, following responses to earlier questions submitted to the LBPD.



Where's the Mayor?

Considering all of the biased inferences and, as yet, unproven allegations and speculation, I'm so glad that the Beachcomber finally publishes Downing's tripe in the Opinion section, where it rightly belongs, rather than in the "News" section as used to be the case.

As a former police administrator, Downing surely knows that all rookie officers who have not yet passed their probationary period are subject to immediate dismissal at any time. Had LBPD *not* allowed Potter to resign in lieu of termination (if that's, in fact, what happened) Downing would surely have condemned the department for allowing him to remain employed there.

Downing's belief that dismissing Potter somehow prevents LBPD from fully investigating the allegations is nonsense. LBPD can still interview Potter at any time but Internal Affairs most likely interviewed Potter fully (on tape and after they provided a Lybarger Admonishment) before allowing him to resign (again, if that's what happened) and escorting him off the property.

I hope the investigation uncovers every bit of wrong-doing that actually occurred and that the department punishes it appropriately and likewise properly disproves every allegation and each bit of "speculation" that is false.

Regardless of the final outcome, it's pretty obvious that Downing will most likely condemn LBPD, just as he already has here, before having all of the facts and before the investigation has concluded.

I had forgotten anybody from LAPD has room to judge another department. Look at all the scandals the LAPD has been in, huh?

Pearce's goose is cooked. Her lack of judgment and ethics is just the tip of the iceburg surrounding her case with the Los Angeles Department of Integrity and investigation of inappropriate conduct and conflict of interest.

Her relationship with Cotter is not a "personal matter," they made it public with their decisions.

Even her alt left base has to deal with her fallout.

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