Deputy Sheriff Allen Passmore
On Tuesday, April 11, 2017 we honored Deputy Sheriff Allen Passmore for his 50 years of life at a wonderful service given by Pastor Fred Leonard from Mountain View Community Church. Allen was memorialized by friends Quinton Hawkins, Damon Bagley and Justin Gainer.
Many of you may not have known Allen at the Sheriff's Office. Below I have attached the eulogy read at this funeral by Sheriff Margaret Mims. Allen's wife, Vicki, wanted to share this with those of you at the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.
Allen Keith Passmore was born on March 23, 1967 to Reverend Kenneth and Mickie Passmore in Sanger, California. While growing up in Sanger, his favorite pastimes, and his most mischievous moments, were hanging out with his older brother David, riding their bikes in the ditch banks and orchards. Allen attended school in Sanger and graduated from Sanger High School in 1985. In high school, he played football, but what he was really proud of was that he was first chair trumpet in the high school band. During his childhood, he did not necessarily know he wanted to be a police officer, but he knew he had a passion for helping people. He got his first dirt bike in the 8th grade and basically fell in love with the sport of racing them.
Allen's love of racing led him to opening his own racetrack in Huron, California after going before the City Council and presenting his business plan. After his track opened, it became a prominent racetrack due to his business smarts and enthusiasm. When that came to a close, his passion for helping people was renewed and he decided to become a police officer. He worked multiple jobs while putting himself through the police academy at night and graduating in 1993.
Allen's first law enforcement opportunity was with the Hanford Police Department, where he served for just less than three years. He started with the Fresno Sheriff's Office in January 1996 and was so excited to be a deputy. His assignments with FSO included patrol, the SWAT team, the Boating Unit, and the Mounted Unit with his partner Sunny, who was part of today's incoming procession. He was promoted to Deputy IV in 2002 and served as a Detective throughout Fresno County and in the Court Services Unit. He received a Life Saving Medal in 1998 while serving on the Boating Unit. Allen and another deputy, using a river rescue boat, were able to retrieve the victim from the swift and dangerous waters below the Pine Flat Dam. He assisted in administering CPR and getting the victim's heart beating again; the victim made a full recovery.
Allen enjoyed spending time with his wife Vicki, son Nicholas, and family and friends, as well as his animals. He loved backyard barbecues, riding street bikes with his friends, watching movies, singing karaoke, attending and hosting progressive dinners, times on the deck at the cabin, and playing board games with Vicki and Nicholas. He never met an Eighties song he didn't want to turn up. His story-telling skills were legendary; when he would start a story, the catch would begin as a minnow; by the end of the story, it would be a shark. He was an avid supporter of the Green Bay Packers since childhood, even during the tough years. He finally realized his dream of buying his Harley Davidson last year.
The loss of Allen will be felt by his family daily. He would call his parents every morning, prepare Vicki and Nicholas's lunches with handwritten notes, and watch Nicholas play sports. He took special pride in seeing Nicholas play his trumpet from high school. A special memory Vicki will carry with her is dancing with Allen in the backyard under the stars to Air Supply. When Vicki and Allen took their vows, they not only meant them at the time, but they practiced them on a daily basis. They shared happy times, they laughed, they cried, and through life's challenges, supported each other and put their vows to the test and came out more loving and more secure. The night before his passing, Allen blessed Vicki with a perfect date night with their closest friends. There is a beautiful picture to forever capture that memory.
There's no doubt that Allen loved Vicki, but the true love is his son Nicholas. Allen was so prideful of Nicholas, who he would lovingly refer to as Junior. His support of Nicholas's sports and academics was endless, and he could be seen on the sidelines as well as behind the scenes, providing Nicholas every opportunity to reach his dreams.
For Allen's family and friends, the loss is tremendous, but Allen, rest well in Heaven, for we will be together again.
Deputy found guilty in 2015 Calif. televised beating; mistrial for two others
I wanted to update you all on an incident that occurred with San Bernardino deputies in 2015, as I had a few inquiries recently if I knew any resolution on this case. Just so happens, this case was taken to trial recently and a sheriff's deputy in San Bernardino was convicted of assault for his role in the beating of a suspect following a chase on horseback in 2015.
Deputy Charles Foster, 35, faces up to three years in prison at an April 28 sentencing after a jury found him guilty of assault by a police officer, San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office spokesman Christopher Lee said. Lee added that the jury agreed on Foster's guilt in the incident, but was deadlocked, 8-4, on the same charges against Michael Phelps, 31, and Nicholas Downey, 34, two other deputies involved. Prosecutors have not decided whether to retry Phelps and Downey.
Many of you may or may not remember, this was a case involving a suspect, Francis Pusok, who took deputies on over a three hour chase, on foot, vehicle, and ended with him on a horse in the mountains of San Bernardino.
The incident, on April 9, 2015, began with deputies arriving at a home to serve a search warrant in an identity theft case. Francis Pusok, who was present at the scene but not a suspect, although he had been arrested several times previously, fled at the sight of deputies. A three-hour chase across the county's desert, which involved Pusok escaping on a stolen motorcycle and later a stolen horse, ended with a confrontation with officers. Video from a live television report from a hovering helicopter showed Pusok being beaten by the officers.
Deputies were inserted by helicopter to make the final arrest and the significant use of force was captured by a news helicopter flying above the incident at about the 8000' mark – filming the entire incident that left a black eye on law enforcement.
Pusok had made threats to kill the next deputy he encountered. However, when he was finally arrested he was in the prone position and obviously surrendering to the three deputies on scene. Rather, than making the arrest – the three deputies proceeded to punch and kick Pusok repeatedly before more deputies (ten more) arrived on scene to make the final arrest in handcuffs.
Pusok received a $650,000 settlement from the county after the incident. His trial, on charges including evading a police officer, resisting arrest, stealing an animal, cruelty to an animal and being under the influence of drugs, and vehicle theft, is scheduled to start in May.
Frontal Assault on the Vested Pension Rights
The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco issued a highly controversial decision in Marin Association of Public Employees v. Marin County Employees' Retirement Association. The Court ruled that an employer may reduce pension benefits, before retirement, so long as the pension benefit remains "reasonable." The Court offers no guidelines for what is a reasonable change and what is an unreasonable one.
The decision is an undisguised, frontal assault on the so-called "California Rule" which has long-protected vested pension rights. Anti-pension advocates are prematurely seizing on this ruling as a "game changer."
Our law firm, Messing, Adam and Jasmine, who also represents Marin County's firefighters and managers in this specific case.
The facts are simple. Since the landmark Ventura case in 1997, the Marin County Employees' Retirement Association (MCERA) has included standby pay; administrative response pay, call-back pay and "cash in lieu" pay as "compensation earnable" under Government Code section 31461. Both employees and the County employer paid contributions based upon the inclusion of these premiums.
After the Legislature passed the California Public Employees' Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA), however, MCERA determined that it would no longer include those premiums as compensation earnable for both existing and new employees.
Multiple Marin County labor unions filed suit. Everyone accepts that pension benefits may be reduced, or even eliminated, for new employees, before they begin work. However, a massive body of California decisions going back at least four decades has universally held that pension benefits for existing employees cannot be changed once they start work unless the pension plan specifically allows for such change. Relying on this unbroken line of cases, the Marin unions argued that MCERA could not discontinue the inclusion of the various premiums as compensation earnable for classic employees.
The Court of Appeal disagreed. Dispensing with the arguments made by MCERA and the California Attorney General's Office (which intervened to defend PEPRA), the Court of Appeal ploughed a new furrow and concluded that public employee pensions may be modified, before retirement, so long as the pension benefit remains "reasonable."
The Court disputed what is perhaps the central tenet of vested pension law: that if a change in the pension system results in a disadvantage to employees; it "must be accompanied by comparable new advantages." It delved into whether, when the California Supreme Court used the word "must," it really meant "must." The Court concluded that the Supreme Court meant only "should." And since "should" really just means "ought to," it violates no legal right for the pension promise to be broken so long as the pension remains reasonable.
The Marin unions took their next steps, which included asking the California Supreme Court to review the case and provide guidance. This seems appropriate given the Court of Appeal's break with precedent, and reconfiguration of what has been a settled body of law. Just last year, a different panel of the First District Court of Appeal in Protect Our Benefits v. City and County of San Francisco held just the opposite in declaring that a charter amendment which eliminated a supplemental cost of living adjustment for retirees was unconstitutional. That panel restated the rule that if a change in the pension system results in a disadvantage to employees, it "must be accompanied by comparable new advantages."
I have received many calls in the recent weeks from those of you who have read other articles on this case and have asked if we should be concerned with it. The simple answer is yes we should. The longer explanation though, is we are far from panic mode in regards to this case – only because it's in Marin County as it stands today and it will be heard by the California Supreme Court. There will be more to come in regards to this case specific and specifically to this issue. As I receive any further information I will update all of you as to its content.
Take care of yourselves and one another.