A Grand Jury report, with the Idyllwild Fire Protection District as the subject, was issued Thursday, June 19. This is the second report focused on IFPD from the 2013-14 Grand Jury and the fifth since 2008.
This report investigated three topics — the behavior of the Department’s Administrative Captain, Mark LaMont, nonfeasance of the Fire Chief, Patrick Reitz, and a Brown Act violation.
The Grand Jury investigated several accusations about the Administrative captain’s actions. Among the incidents was an effort to discredit a reserve firefighter, about which the Grand Jury has sworn testimony from several firefighters refuting the captain’s claims. Another incident involved the ladder truck backing up without a ground guide, presumably the Administrative Captain’s responsibility as passenger in the truck. The truck backed into an IFPD ambulance. Later the captain asked the ambulance crews to claim culpability “because they needed to ‘protect’ the driver in Truck 625.”
These were just two of several incidents for which the Grand Jury criticized the Administrative Captain’s behavior and false statements.
As a result, the Grand Jury recommended "IFPD Board shall conduct an independent investigation into the [Administrative Captain’s] behavior and consider terminating him for violating the Firefighters Code of Ethics and placing IFPD in a potentially liable position.”
Regarding the chief, the Grand Jury accused him of nonfeasance — “the failure to act or to do that which it is your legal duty to do.” The first incident was an apparent failure to obtain his California Paramedic Certification within six months of signing a contract in which this was a condition.
The Grand Jury reported testimony from current and prior firefighters who described the Chief as lacking leadership, resulting in weak, non-existent supervision and poor morale in the Department.
One of the comments referred to the chief’s lack of involvement while the Administrative Captain did too much. The Grand Jury then referred to its first report of the term in which it said “the Administrative captain has too many job responsibilities.”
The Grand Jury recommended that the Commission ensure the chief assumes full management responsibility of the Department, conduct an independent investigation and consider terminating him, too.
The final topic was the Fire Commission and its Finance Committee’s meeting with county fire staff in Perris about the Emergency Dispatch Center as was reported in the Town Crier on April 17. The Grand Jury also concluded that the attendees constituted a quorum of the Commission and committee and the meeting should have been noticed and open pursuant to the Ralph M. Brown Act, Government Code 54956.
Click here to view the report: 2013-2014 Grand Jury Report IFPD Board of Commissiioners and Finance Committee