A mass email received by city officials April 10 from an ex-Murrieta police officer who believes he was wrongly terminated prompted the Murrieta Police Department to issue a statement Monday.
In the email, former Officer Chad Bennett criticized—at times using profanity—senior managers of the Murrieta Police Department. The email was sent to several members of the force, such as the chief, captains, lieutenants, sergeants and fellow officers. All Murrieta City Council members were also included on the distribution list.
A Police Department spokesman declined to elaborate on why Bennett was terminated.
Court records show Bennett, 39, was arrested in May 2012, in an incident that involved domestic violence. He claimed in the email he was treated unfairly by being terminated. Alleged arrests or wrongdoings of other officers or their family members were handled much differently, he wrote.
“You only chose a select few to take care of. If those in need are outside the inner protected circle you turn your back...People who would die for you in the line of duty,” wrote Bennett, in the approximately 2,100-word email which he signed Jason Bourne. (Bourne is the main character in a novel adapted into movies about a foreign agent who develops amnesia.)
“If you lose an employee for any reason that could have been prevented by intervention or rehabilitation that is a leadership issue and you as a leader failed. It takes more than handing someone a phone number and tell them to call a counselor,” Bennett wrote.
“This is not a manifesto. This is a man telling the truth and saying things I was not afforded the opportunity to do,” he wrote, near the top of the email that was also sent to members of the local media.
Bennett goes on to mention his recent arrest, which according to jail records occurred on March 15—after his Feb. 5 termination—in Moreno Valley and involved another alleged domestic violence incident.
“Supposedly I was on the run and I am a trained killer on the loose according to our management who fear for their lives,” Bennett wrote. “...I cooperated 100 percent the entire time.”
Bennett posted $50,000 bail in order to be released from jail, records show. He has not been formally charged in either incident, according to court records.
He wrote that he and his wife were back together.
“Yes, I have faults, I suffer from depression and have suicidal thoughts from time to time. I am human. I won’t deny my problems and I know I have caused some pain in my own life and those close to me. I have asked for forgiveness and I will move forward. I am proud, I am strong with or without your support,” Bennett wrote.
When contacted via email by Patch, Bennett was reluctant to be interviewed. He responded by writing, in part: "...I’m trying to help people not sound crazy." He also wrote that "there was never physical violence towards my wife or a firearm used in any way shape or form."
Regarding the ex-officer’s claims, Murrieta police lieutenants Rob Firmes and Tony Conrad, who both serve as spokesmen, emailed the following statement Monday on behalf of Chief Mike Baray:
“The following narrative sums up Chief Mike Baray’s comments:
“The Murrieta Police Department did in fact receive an email from former Police Officer Chad Bennett dated 4/10/13. The email is aggressive in its criticism toward department management. Although the email did not contain any threats, it was disturbing nonetheless. The criticism was mainly directed at management employees that were at some time involved in the disciplinary process resulting in Mr. Bennett’s termination on February 5th, 2013. Bennett was hired by the Murrieta Police Department in September of 2005. As far as station security is concerned, the police department’s standard security measures are sufficient. Mr. Bennett, as a terminated employee, no longer has free access to the building or police department property. The email correspondence sent by Mr. Bennett will not be released by the department simply because it is derogatory in nature and is related to a personnel investigation.
“In summary, Chief Baray believes all the employees and volunteers of the Murrieta Police Department are exemplary in work performance and character. It is unfortunate that Mr. Bennett chose this forum in which to communicate his opinions.
“The Murrieta Police Department will have no further comments on this matter.”