By Jason KUROSU
The Glendale City Council recently appointed Albert Abkarian to the city’s Civil Service Commission, but not without opposition from Glendale’s police union. Jason Ross, president of the Glendale Police Officers’ Association, spoke in opposition to the appointment at the City Council’s Aug. 25 meeting, stating that Abkarian filed a complaint against a Glendale detective in 2010, an incident which Ross said denoted bias against police officers.
Ross presented a recording to the council of a June 2010 phone conversation between Abkarian and Glendale police detective Petros Kmbikyan, regarding Abkarian’s then-upcoming testimony as a character witness in his brother in-law’s trial.
After declining to answer Kmbikyan’s questions regarding his testimony, Abkarian then filed a complaint, saying that the detective was “bullying me and trying to intimidate me” in an email to the city attorney, which Ross called “a gross exaggeration.”
The complaint prompted an Internal Affairs investigation, which “has remained on Detective Kmbikyan’s record to this day,” said Ross. However, the complaint was considered unfounded after investigators heard the phone conversation recording, Ross said.
Ross said the recording “brings up serious questions about Mr. Abkarian’s feelings towards law enforcement and his credibility.”
The Civil Service Commission oversees disciplinary matters for city employees. Members of Glendale’s Civil Service Commission serve four-year terms, with no term limits. Abkarian previously served on the Civil Service Commission from 2002 to 2010.
Three council members voted in approval of Abkarian’s appointment.
Vartan Gharpetian, who nominated Abkarian for the position, said, “My nomination is based on my trust, my personal knowledge of Mr. Abkarian and his great reputation in the community, his business life and his family life.”
Paula Devine said, “I will vote to support Councilmember Gharpetian’s nomination, with the assurance that he feels that Mr. Abkarian is not biased and he is a qualified candidate.”
Zareh Sinanyan said that the concerns brought up by Ross were troubling, but said that he hoped those issues were in the past and that Abkarian’s experience serving on the commission would lead to positive results.
“That was a long time ago. It happened. I’m willing to believe in Mr. Abkarian that as a Civil Service commissioner in the past, he will do his job properly and will be extremely fair to everyone involved,” said Sinanyan.
Laura Friedman voted against the appointment, saying that “a very valid concern” was raised at the meeting.
“Mr. Abkarian has served on Civil Service and as far as I know, served very honorably, but I am also very concerned about a lack of trust by the very people that the Civil Service oversees going forward.”
Mayor Ara Najarian abstained from voting.
Abkarian declined to comment for this story.