Mr. Robert Agrella, President
Santa Rosa Junior College
Santa Rosa, CA
Dear Mr. Robert Agrella,
We're writing to express
our concerns that months of unchecked sexual harassment at the SRJC
Police Academy this past year resulted in the loss of five promising
female cadets from the evening academy.
We are especially concerned
that, according to a number of cadets, this harassment went on for
months and that the director of the evening academy, Deputy Peter
Hardy, repeatedly ignored or minimized cadets' reports of the harassment.
In fact, according to cadets, Director Hardy protected the perpetrator
at the expense of the cadets, and allowed the perpetrator to graduate
in December. The perpetrator is now eligible to become a police
officer in California. The careers of the female cadets have been
lost to the community.
also writing to suggest that this situation presents a unique opportunity
for you to help correct what has been an intractable county wide
problem of our police departments' inability to retain female officers.
As we understand it,
the situation at the academy last year is that there was a male
cadet in the year 2000 evening police academy who was sexually harassing
females in the class for months until the women left around midterm.
The sexual harassment at times escalated to criminal sexual offenses
and criminal threats. A number of the cadets, female and male, reported
and confirmed the ongoing harassment to the evening Academy Director
Peter Hardy. Instead of acting on the evidence presented to him,
Director Hardy allowed the harassment to continue even as female
cadets were leaving the class one after the other.
In May 2000, just before
midterm of the one year evening academy, there were a total of 25
cadets in the class. There were 8 females (2 of whom were minority
race females) and there were 17 males. The primary victim of the
harassment was a minority race female.
graduation time in December, 2000, there were a total of 18 graduating
students, only 3 of whom were females and 15 of whom were males.
5 of the females had been lost to the class including the 2 minority
females. One of the 2 males who left the program was also a victim
of sexual harassment by the perpetrator cadet. This male victim
had also reported the harassment to Hardy, and then later tried
to report to Hardy again when the perpetrator cadet retaliated against
him for reporting in the first place. According to this cadet, when
he tried to tell Hardy about the retaliation, Hardy said he didn't
want to hear it. The other male who was lost to the class was one
of the three minority males.
The perpetrator cadet
was graduated with Deputy Hardy's full knowledge of his offenses,
as confirmed, witnessed, and reported to him by a number of cadets.
From the statements made to us by a number of the cadets, Director
Hardy was well within his rights and obligation to have terminated
the perpetrator cadet and saved the other cadets' careers.
There were other officers
who were at the academy in training positions who can fill you in
on the details. They are Deputy Don Fisher, Deputy Tom Spencer,
and Officer Todd Hart.
is sickening, Mr. Agrella, particularly in light of the terrible
record of our local police departments in the hiring and retention
of female officers over the past few years. Here are just some of
the indicators of the problem:
- The national average
of female sworn officers on police forces is 14%. The percentage
of sworn females among the sum of police in Sonoma County is less
than half the national average.
- In the last four
years, at least ten female sworn officers have left the Santa
Rosa Police Department, five of whom stated to us that they left
because of the hostile work environment in that department against
females. Santa Rosa Police Department has never had a female in
any position of rank, not even a female sargent. As of August
4, 2000, Santa Rosa Police Department had only 13 sworn female
officers (7%) out of a total of 173 sworn officers.
- In the same time
period, Sonoma County Sheriff's Department has had at least 10
female deputies and corrections officers file sexual harassment
complaints and lawsuits. As of August, 2000, the Sheriff's Department
had only 17 sworn female officers (7%) out of a total of 218 sworn
- Sebastopol Police
Department has never had a female sworn officer until this year,
- Sonoma State University
Police two years ago paid off a sexual harassment lawsuit brought
by a female officer who was sexually assaulted by one superior,
and ordered by another to falsify a domestic violence report so
that the report would favor the male suspect.
addition to the gross injustice to the women in these situations,
what's equally disturbing is the intolerable cost to our communities.
Two decades of research on women police is conclusive. Women officers
exceed male officers on many of precisely the skills that are so
sorely needed to correct chronic problems plaguing our police. The
research shows that women officers have much lower rates of excessive
use of force, they better handle rape and domestic violence, and
they excel at de-escalating volatile situations.
The opportunity for you
that we referred to earlier in the letter is that this problem has
now come to a head at the police academy where you have unique authority
to intervene. Until now, correction of sex discrimination problems
in our law enforcement agencies has depended solely on police officials.
For the most part, our local police officials have proven unable
to make the internal changes necessary to end male dominance in
The police academy, however,
although run by police and Sheriff's deputies, is a department of
Santa Rosa Junior College, and as such it falls into your jurisdiction.
In fact, under Title IX of the Federal Civil Rights Act, Santa Rosa
Junior College is obligated to ensure that there is no sexual harassment
at the college. We're asking first, that you abide by that obligation
and investigate Deputy Hardy's response to the sexual harassment
complaints. And if, as the cadets claim, Deputy Hardy allowed the
harassment to continue, and allowed the perpetrator to graduate,
we ask that you immediately remove Hardy from his job as head of
the evening academy.
we ask you to take all necessary measures to correct the sex discrimination
that has been rife at the SRJC Police academy for years.
Marie De Santis, Co-chair
Tanya Brannan, Co-chair
Kim Mercier, Co-chair
SRJC Board of Trustees
Sonoma County communities
California Police Officer Standards and Training
National Center for Women and Policing Sonoma County Law Enforcement