Originally created 12/16/06

Chief is named in lawsuit



SAVANNAH, Ga. - A Los Angeles Police Department officer has accused Savannah-Chatham Police Chief Michael Berkow of promoting female officers in exchange for sexual favors and hiding evidence in the homicide investigation of rapper Notorious B.I.G.

A lawsuit filed by the LAPD officer in May spells out allegations against Chief Berkow ranging from sexual harassment and discrimination to whistleblower retaliation and violations of the Peace Officer's Bill of Rights.

Chief Berkow served as deputy chief with the LAPD and officer in charge of its Internal Affairs Division before he was hired last month as the new chief of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department.

Chief Berkow declined to discuss the allegations in the lawsuit. His attorney, Clint Robison, said the suit has no merit.

"At its core, it's nothing more than trumped-up charges of favoritism," Mr. Robison said. "There's nothing illegal."

Officer Ya May Christle, a 17-year veteran with the LAPD, filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Chief Berkow and the city of Los Angeles.

On Wednesday, Ms. Christle's attorney, Bradley Gage, filed a motion opposing Chief Berkow's request to keep certain information in the suit private.

The court is scheduled to rule on that motion Tuesday. A mediation conference is scheduled for Jan. 22 - Chief Berkow said he does not plan to attend.

"We're going to move forward as quick as possible to get this dismissed," Mr. Robison said.

He said a judge dismissed Ms. Christle's original complaint, saying it had no merit. However, the judge ruled the officer could refile. In October, she filed an amended lawsuit.

Mr. Robison said that suit is no different from the first one.

"These are pretty typical," he said. "It's not uncommon for people at the top to be named as individual defendants. There is no connection between Christle and Berkow."

In September, City Manager Michael Brown selected Chief Berkow as SCMPD chief from a pool of five finalists.

The appointment followed a $30,000-plus search by the Police Executive Research Forum, which included extensive background investigations of each candidate.



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