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Arroyo Grande to consider hiring Ventura investigator for July 3 incident

The Arroyo Grande City Council will meet Wednesday to consider hiring a Ventura-based firm to investigate a July 3 incident involving two employees and the city’s response to it.

The council will consider a contract with Chuck Hookstra of Sintra Group Investigations at a special meeting starting at 9 a.m. at 215 E. Branch St.

Hookstra would reinvestigate the incident and also review a subsequent investigation conducted by a deputy city attorney, the concerns identified by the Arroyo Grande Police Officers Association, and other information, and then prepare a public report, according to a staff report prepared by Councilmen Tim Brown and Jim Guthrie.

Much debate in Arroyo Grande has centered on a July 3 incident when five police officers found City Manager Steve Adams and Community Development Director Teresa McClish alone late at night in City Hall.

A deputy city attorney investigation in July found no policy violations had occurred. Adams and McClish told the attorney that they had some wine at two restaurants in the Village and were talking in Adams' office to ensure they were safe to drive home.

The Arroyo Grande Police Officers Association later called for an independent investigation of the incident, which the City Council is now pursuing. The union also filed a formal complaint and took unanimous votes of no confidence in Adams and Arroyo Grande Mayor Tony Ferrara over the handling of the incident.

The firm would charge the city $120 an hour, plus $100 a day for meals and any expenses incurred for travel, computer-assisted investigated research costs and court document searches.

Brown and Guthrie wrote that Cmdr. Jim Voge of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office’s internal affairs unit performed a background investigation of Hookstra and concluded he is qualified to perform investigative services for Arroyo Grande.

Hookstra has worked seven years as a licensed private investigator, according to his résumé. He was formerly the assistant chief of police for the Oxnard Police Department.

For more information, go to www.arroyogrande.org.

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