Questions Surround Police Administrative Leave

Vaughn Lawrence

Chief Steven P. Wagg and Captain Nidal Kobaissi were placed on administrative leave, and there is suspicion about whether or not they were qualified for their positions.

In the Dec. 15 issue of the Glendale News Press, reporter Jason Wells asked GCC to provide his publication with resumes for Wagg and Kobaissi. He was denied the information.

Independently verifying the same information through the Human Resources Office, the Associate Vice President of Human Resources Vicki Nicholson stated that she “can’t give out any information.”

The crux of the problem is that administrative leave is considered a personnel matter, and many of the campus entities that are usually reliable sources of information are legally bound to refrain from comment.

Conversely, the onus of responsibility in reporting is to provide accurate public information and this includes whether public safety is at issue and whether criminal misconduct has been committed. This requires due diligence.

Since, in the absence of personnel records there is no method of proving whether Wagg and Kobaissi were qualified or not, the next logical step to finding information is to talk to members of the department and administration themselves.

Not surprisingly, members of the GCC police department declined to comment. “I literally cannot tell you anything,” said Cadet Wyatt while he was sitting at the information desk located in the school’s student parking lot. Wyatt would not give an interview and said that none of the other members of the department could give information. He said, “They are not supposed to, if they did I would have some words for them.”

Dispatcher Alex Gonzalez, who works in the GCC Police Office, said that neither he nor anyone else from the department could give an interview. Gonzalez said, “For the newspaper you can’t do that.” At a different time but in the same office, Communications Officer Merrick Wahl would not give an interview for the paper, he said, “No I can’t, sorry.”

The final member of the police department that said he could not give any information was found at the ATM that is located directly outside of the Bookstore. Officer Carthew did not disappoint when he toed the party line. Then he suggested that the Office of Public Relations was a great place to find information.
The Public Information Director, Wendy Grove stated in no uncertain terms, “I can’t give out confidential information.”

Wagg’s leave began Dec. 14, and was supposed to end on Dec. 31. He has still not returned. In his absence officer Erin Kurasz was appointed the position of acting captain. Kurasz was the only member of the department that gave an interview, but in reference to Wagg she said “I cannot reveal any info.” She has been at Glendale Community College for 12 years, and is the only female officer in the GCC Police Department.

The department, the administration and members of the Board of Trustees have had one consistent message: that the suspension of Wagg and Kobaissi is a personnel matter and that public safety has never been at risk.

The spring semester began Feb. 14 with a new acting captain, and many unanswered questions about her predecessors. It looks like only time will tell why Wagg and Kobaissi have been placed on leave from the GCC Police Department.

To contact the police for any information or to report a crime call (818) 240-1000 ext. 4000.