Dale Strobridge, formerly a sergeant with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department and the past head of the Deputy Sheriff’s Association, is fighting a two-pronged battle over his unceremonious termination in early 2011.
After 11 years with the department, Strobridge was fired on Feb. 25, 2011. On March 13 of this year, he filed a complaint for damages against the county, Sheriff’s Department, former sheriff Pat Hedges, current Sheriff Ian Parkinson, and county Human Resources Director Tami Douglas-Schatz. The lawsuit includes a short list of allegations that Strobridge claims led to him being retaliated against and eventually fired.
Strobridge claims he became aware that Hedges was “surreptitiously” recording former chief deputy Gary Hoving in 2005, and that he reported the illegal recording to then-human resources director Deb Hossli, kicking off the subsequent investigation of Hedges.
He further claims he was retaliated against for challenging a department change to holiday time adjustments. In his complaint, Strobridge says he was then made the subject of an internal affairs investigation.
More recently, Strobridge alleges he found confidential internal affairs and personnel files on an accessible drive in the department’s computer network. He reports copying the files to a thumb drive “in an effort to ensure the integrity of the confidential documents” and notifying Douglas-Schatz of the “breach of confidentiality.” Hedges initiated an internal affairs investigation of Strobridge and ordered him to surrender the thumb drive, the lawsuit alleges. A few months later, he was fired.
Strobridge is also appealing his termination through the county’s quasi-judicial channels.
Sgt. Aaron Nix said he was only legally allowed to confirm that Strobridge “separated employment” with the department and that his position has since been refilled. County Counsel Warren Jensen told New Times the county hadn’t reviewed the lawsuit, but it will likely file a response. He declined to comment further on Strobridge’s appeal of his termination, citing California personnel protections.
“Assuming that there is no order sealing the court records, our pleadings will be open to public inspection and will shed further light on the matter,” Jensen said.
Strobridge could not be reached for comment as of press time.
He was elected as president of the Deputy Sheriff’s Association in January 2006, according to the lawsuit, and promoted to sergeant that May.
On Feb. 25, 2010 (three days before Strobridge claims he discovered the confidential files), some of the sworn officers from the Deputy Sheriff’s Association began a new union: the Association of San Luis Obispo County Deputy Sheriffs.