Fired Vallejo police lieutenant reinstated with full back pay, interest

A long-time Vallejo police lieutenant who was terminated from his job and then sued has been reinstated with full back pay, according to his attorney.

Lt. Herman "Herm" Robinson was fired in the spring of 2021 for what Chief Shawny Williams said was a breach of department policy regarding emails he sent from his private Yahoo account.

Robinson had been with the department for 47 years and is the son of Vallejo's first Black police officer.

The lieutenant was represented by the law firm of Rains Lucia Stern St. Phalle and Silver, which represents law enforcement personnel all over the Bay Area. The case was settled in arbitration, with the arbitrator issuing a 24-page decision finding that there was no just cause for his dismissal, the attorneys for the plaintiffs said in a statement Thursday morning.

The city of Vallejo has been ordered to pay Robinson for loss of income and all benefits he would have accrued, including overtime, his attorneys said. Vallejo must also pay interest and unpaid wages at the rate of 10 percent.

At the time of his firing, Robinson was among the highest paid members of the department with an annual base salary of approximately $180,000 and overtime pay of roughly $197,000, according to Transparent California.

Robinson's lawyers said they intend to file a civil case against Williams, who they allege made false statements under oath when he stated in a deposition that he had notified a deputy chief of his intentions to let Robinson go; the deputy chief testified that he was in fact never consulted about the dismissal.

Rains et al also allege that Williams is the center of "an ongoing, active investigation for serious acts of misconduct and serious performance failures."

The Vallejo Police Officers Union, which is represented by Rains, frequently criticizes the chief on Twitter, most recently after the department released a use-of-force report that showed a 33 percent reduction in incidents.

The VPOA claimed that the reason for the reduction in use of force incidents could not be credited to the chief and that it was primarily due to the fact that the department is woefully understaffed -- less officers means less incidents, they claim.

The union says that a "mass exodus" occurred after Williams was hired, due to his "failed leadership."

Williams was hired in 2019 to clean up a department plagued by officer-involved shootings, badges bent to mark the killing of civilians, and the infamous "Gone Girl" kidnapping case and their related lawsuits, which have tarnished Vallejo's reputation on a national level.