Palm Springs police Chief apologizes for insensitive remarks during sex sting

PALM SPRINGS – Palm Spring police Chief David Dominguez apologized today for insensitive remarks made during sex sting in Warm Sands targeting gay men.

”An inappropriate comment made by me did not display the utmost professional conduct expected from the chief of police and I sincerely apologize to the community at large,” he said.

City Manager David Ready also offered his apology, saying a report on the sting showed police were unprofessional and made offensive comments.

The sting, which netted 19 arrests, was done in response to what police said were complaints about drug use, public sex and prostitution in Warm Sands. But some people complained that police were targeting gay men unfairly.

During a pretrial hearing, one defendant said a police officer could be heard using a gay slur on a video recording in an undercover vehicle. An attorney for some of those arrested said the chief was in that particular car.

The lawyer lodged a complaint, alleging Dominguez disparaged the arrestees to his officers.

”What a bunch of filthy mother (expletive),” he allegedly said. ”You guys should get paid extra for this.”

The apology comes months after he disputed similar allegations relayed to him by City News Service.

”If someone told you I was in that car when that slur was made, that’s a lie,” he said. ”And that is a total lie.”

That statement led attorney Roger Tansey, who is defending six men who were arrested, to question the chief’s integrity.

”Was the chief lying then or was he lying now, and what is the City Council going to do about it?” Tansey asked. ”He was furious someone would even imply he was in the car making obscene comments. Now, it appears that he did.”

Ready said any discipline to be meted out has been taken care of, without saying what that might have been. He said state law prohibited it.

In the city’s report, Ready said police should have reached out to hoteliers, businesses and residents to warn them about the sting operation. He suggested the sting could have been done with surveillance instead of undercover decoys.

Ready said police are revising guidelines for handling lewd-conduct complaints, requiring officers and future hires to receive sensitivity training. The city also is instituting a procedure by which complaints regarding LGBT issues, internal or external to city hall, will go through the city manager’s office

The issue will be aired again at a Jan. 20 hearing in which Tansey will seek dismissal of charges against his clients. He said police acted with discriminatory intent.

The police chief’s admission may further the cause, Tansey said.

”Certainly to the extent that you have the police chief calling them names and officers down the line calling them names, I would assume a judge would agree that is discriminatory,” Tansey said.

Tansey called Ready’s report a ”whitewash,” because it did not specify that the city received specific complaints of men having sex with other men.

Ready did not return a phone call seeking to discuss the report.

Dominguez said he would learn from his mistake.

”I believe we have all learned much about perception and sensitivity,” he said. ”While we are not perfect, we make every attempt to understand and embrace the diversity of our community.”

17 Responses to "Palm Springs police Chief apologizes for insensitive remarks during sex sting"

  1. double standard   December 28, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Gays in Palm Springs always cry about getting understanding and tolerance,yet they are the least tolerant,especially when they screw up and want to turn it around as though its always someone else to blame…drugs,prostitution,they got busted,pay the piper! The cops in Palm Springs always try to be as tolerant as possible, and often give the gay community leanency…face it,it was time to clean up that area!

  2. mark green   December 28, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    The police chief should not be subjected to homosexual-oriented political pressures. Stop undermining the enforcement of laws that the vast majority of Riverside Co. citizens support. Homosexual ‘cruising’ and lewd conduct in a public parks deserve to be resisted. There should be no tolerance for ‘gay sex’ in public restrooms, just as drinking in a public park is unacceptable. Get it? Go to your gay bath houses and relieve yourselves there if necessary. Stop injecting homosexual propaganda into local news. Get these sexual weirdos off the playground and in jail.

  3. Wilby   December 29, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Whatever happened to freedom of speech? Everyone is offended now over stupid stuff like this.

  4. Jaroslaw   December 29, 2010 at 10:40 am

    It should be hard for the city of Palm Springs to prosecute anyone for perjury if the chief of police is a liar. I’m not happy about what he said, but I think most people would be a lot more understanding if he admitted it the first time. Now we KNOW he’s a liar and nothing he says from today forward can be trusted.

  5. JoyLeaf   December 29, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Wilby, People have freedom of speech, it is a right granted to us by the Constitution. The government does not have rights, including freedom of speech. An on duty cop has powers not rights, as he is acting as an arm of the government. A cop is expected to be professorial, it is not their job to decide guilt or to discriminate against one group or another. If they are targeting one group and making disparaging comments about them they are not doing their job right. It does not matter if that group is defined by economics, color, religion, orientation or any other defining characteristic.

  6. Forrest   December 29, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I must say several commenters on here who have the nerve to judge others for intolerance really should look in the mirror. Further, a police officer is a public servant and should show respect to ALL members of a community while carrying out his/her duties. At any rate, it leaves one to wonder if this news outlet is a Fox affiliate……

  7. over reaction   December 29, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Regardless of the sexual orientation of the offending party, public displays of sexual activity, drug use and associated criminal behavior are what most members of polite society would consider "filthy". Had the chief’s remarks had an actual element of specificity toward the gay community -on the basis of sexual orientation- then there would be a legitimate case for discrimination based on said sexual orientation. Here, sexual orientation seems to be incidental to the overall picture of lewd behavior in public. The chief’s remarks, while perhaps less than the "picture of professionalism", are nothing more than a candid expression of his opinions on the public commission and exhibition of a certain class of criminal acts. APF

  8. over reaction   December 29, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    As an addendum to my previous comment, please note that I am closely aligned with the LGBT community. Behaviors such as those alleged against the arrested individuals set us back as a civilized society and as a community of tolerance.

  9. Are you out of your minds?   December 29, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    So cops dressed in skimpy clothes, grabbing their crotches, asking gay men to "show them what they’ve got" and not taking answers like "come back to my room" as a put off…. That isn’t entrapment? And how do drugs figure into this? And why are these people being charged with harsher crimes than any straight people caught in similar circumstances? (And straight people have been, believe me.) And why are police wasting valuable time and money on this when there are much worse crimes being committed in the area?
    The reason: it’s ok to be disgusted with gay men and everything about them and call them dirty xxxxxx.
    This is so backwards it should have happened in Nebraska or Iraq.

  10. over reaction   December 30, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    …out of your mind, there are innumerable "John" stings involving (primarily) heterosexual – the term ‘straight’ is a bit vague – men and the female prostitutes they attempt to hire. In many cases, female law enforcement decoys are employed, dressed in revealing attire to advertise "what they’ve got" in an attempt to facilitate a potential John’s solicitation. In either the traditional John sting or the Palm Springs sting, a class of criminal offender is being apprehended and charged within the allowed extent of the California Penal Code and the Health and Safety Code. Each allegedly violated section carries its own, self-limiting severity and self-limiting consequent punishments. To say homosexual men are being unfairly targeted is appealing to propaganda and the preexisting societal sense of apologetics to a (often times) truly maligned segment of the population. Supplanting fair logical analysis of a situation with such an appeal is irresponsible, not to mention dismissive of the population segment you ostensibly seek to defend. Additionally, I am highly suspicious of your lumping together of predicted humanitarian similarities in Nebraska and Iraq. I am sure you would be hard pressed to find a citizen of Baghdad who agrees (or Nebraska for that matter).

  11. Joe Boren   December 30, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Why don’t we give them a little bit of cheese to go along with that "whine"…Good grief…Why is it that we have to tip toe around everybody that we arrest. I was an officer 27 years and I did my best and as a supervisor I insisted that my men did thier best to not intentionally go out of thier way to say something that would offend…..but once in a while …. It just slips out" and you can’t take it back!

  12. ps   January 1, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Do not apologize, you did normal thing. Iamagine normal people like man and woman would act like this… that woud be a major problem… so let’s have the same standards for everyone… sorry for speling…

  13. Ticked Off   January 3, 2011 at 11:34 am

    For those of you who are supporting the PS Police Department, check the facts first before pouncing on those who defend the gay men who were arrested. The Public Defender obtained evidence that the PSPD received about a dozen complaints of lewd conduct in the last 2 years, 10 of which involved heterosexual men exposing themselves to women at Knott’s Water Park. Of the 2 complaints involving homosexuals, neither of them involved lewd conduct committed in or around the Warm Sands area (reference Public Defenders’ Motion to Dismiss in Case No. INM199539). Yet, in a deposition, a Lt. Graham admitted that he did not know why only a sex sting operation was made at Warm Sands against homosexual males and never one at Knott’s Water Park against heterosexual males. Now, is that discriminatory prosecution or what? Tax dollars wasted on a 4-night sting operation using 15 officers including the Chief of Police, where the undercover agents constantly tried to coerce men who were just in the area to engage in public sex. How shameful is that? Read the full motion here:

  14. over reaction   January 4, 2011 at 2:53 am

    …ticked off, I don’t believe I fit into the category of those who "pounc[e] on those who defend the gay men…". On the contrary, my posts attempt to urge the reader not to pounce on the perceived opportunity to turn this situation into a political, rather than a law enforcement, issue. Doing so smacks of pandering to the lowest common denominator of discourse. If we must mark tally so that the "gay" and "straight " communities are arrested and charged on a one for one basis, then the community at large suffers. Do you conjecture that crime within the gay community goes unchecked and unprosecuted simply because an enforcement "quota " of similar crime within the straight community hasn’t been met? Would you sacrifice the safety of the largely law abiding gay community simply in order to see an equal number of arrests and prosecutions? Perhaps before pouncing on a political morsel, it would be found wise to actually consider the constituent members of society in question.

  15. over reaction   January 4, 2011 at 3:09 am

    …ticked off, please know that, in my opinion, the acts alleged at Knott’s-given that the allegations are credible – should also be investigated, and the offender(s) identified and prosecuted. My stance is simply that equal treatment under the law cannot be polarized "gay" and "straight", especially when it comes to those who breech the integrity of that law. To allow for leniency towards crime in one community based on the lack of enforcement of crime in another is simply to allow more crime to go unchecked and unpunished in the community at large.

  16. really   January 6, 2011 at 3:59 am

    are there gay men in palm springs? really?

  17. what's a sting for?   January 6, 2011 at 8:41 am

    So the police have to let everyone know there is a "sting operation" going to happen before the operation? Did the student at Palm Desert High get notified about the Sting Operation in the recent drug busts? It doesn’t make sense to announce police operations before they happen, it kind of defeats the purpose of the operation. Illegal is Illegal. The police shouldn’t have to notify the public they are looking for illegal activity, it’s their job. The people in the Palm Springs park bust and the Palm Desert drug bust broke the law and deserve the consequences of their actions.


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