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By Tanya Eiserer
The Dallas Morning News

DALLAS - Testimony continued Monday in a whistle-blower lawsuit that Dallas Police Sgt. Robert Crider filed against the city of Dallas, contending that he was transferred from his Love Field post in retaliation for having spoken up about security flaws and overtime abuse at the airport.
During testimony Monday, retired Assistant Chief Shirley Gray said she decided to transfer Sgt. Crider because his "relationship had so deteriorated" with his supervisor, the late Lt. E.W. Smith, that it was the best thing for the unit's operations.
"Lt. Smith stated that he was unable to supervise Sgt. Crider," Mrs. Gray said.
The trial began last Monday with jury selection in the court of state District Judge Gena Slaughter.
Sgt. Crider was transferred to the evening shift at the Dallas County Jail in November 2005. He filed his lawsuit in February 2006, alleging that he was transferred after complaining about the problems at Love Field.
Last week, several witnesses testified that transfers to posts such as those at the jail, the police property room and communications are considered punishment at the Dallas Police Department.
Mrs. Gray said she chose the jail as Sgt. Crider's new assignment because the jail was under her command.
Under intense questioning from Sgt. Crider's attorney, Mrs. Gray conceded that much of the testimony she had given during a January deposition was inaccurate. She had stated during that deposition that Sgt. Crider's move to the jail was a temporary special assignment, when it was actually an involuntary transfer.
She also stated that the public integrity unit, which looks into allegations of criminal misconduct, had looked into Sgt. Crider's case, which it had not.
Mrs. Gray, who has been retired for more than two years, attributed her lapses in memory to the amount of the time that has passed since those events occurred.
The defense attorney also questioned why Mrs. Gray did not follow a departmental rule that required that the reasoning for any involuntary transfer be put in writing. She said she did not believe the rule applied to her because she was a "bureau commander."
Sgt. Crider's attorney also contended that part of the evidence that his transfer was retaliatory in nature was because his shift and days off were changed when he was moved. Mrs. Gray said she did not realize that he was being moved to a different shift, and said, in fact, that she did "not want to cause him any hardship."
He had been assigned to Love Field for more than 10 years. His performance evaluations were positive. He was chosen as officer of the month in December 2004.
Mrs. Gray said she did not put much stock in performance evaluations, saying she did not think they gave an accurate picture of an employee's performance.
Police Chief David Kunkle fired Sgt. Crider in June 2006 for failing to tell his supervisor that other officers had threatened to embarrass a TV reporter who was critical of the operations of the Love Field unit. Sgt. Crider, who did not hear the threat firsthand, did report the comments to the reporter. He was subsequently reinstated.
Sgt. Crider has alleged that his firing was also in retaliation for his having filed the lawsuit, which department officials have denied.
Lt. Smith was transferred from the Love Field unit in May 2006. He died of cancer in December 2007.
Sgt. Crider's original complaint about Love Field operations alleged that police officers failed to properly carry out random ID checks, billed the airport for needless overtime and left important security posts unmanned.

Wire Service
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