Carlsbad Police Chief Accused, Not Charged

Carlsbad police Chief Thomas Zoll will not face criminal charges stemming from an argument with the department's Officer of the Year

The county district attorney's office recently reviewed a criminal complaint alleging that Carlsbad police Chief Thomas Zoll threatened the Police Department's Officer of the Year in March, but prosecutors declined to file any charges, Carlsbad and DA officials confirmed Tuesday, according to the North County Times.

It was the first time that city management publicly acknowledged a criminal complaint had been made against the chief, who was placed on paid leave for three weeks this spring immediately following the incident, and who recently announced his plans to retire after about six years with the department.

In his complaint to the Police Department, Detective Pat Preston, a 20-year veteran and the department's 2009 Officer of the Year, said he was discussing police business with Zoll in the chief's office on the morning of March 17 when the two argued, according to information provided by the Carlsbad Police Department and the district attorney's office.

Zoll ordered Preston out of his office, and another person then heard Zoll threaten to physically harm the detective, the Police Department and district attorney's office said. They declined to provide any other details.

Chief Zoll was placed on paid leave the following day while the city investigated a "personnel matter," Carlsbad spokeswoman Tina Ray said. The chief was allowed to return to work April 6.

Ray said that Preston officially made a criminal complaint about the alleged incident May 13. Carlsbad police Lt. Jay Eppel took Preston's statement and talked to one other unnamed witness, she said. The report was then forwarded to the district attorney's office.

On July 2, the district attorney's office sent a letter to the city saying no charges would be filed, Ray said. Office spokesman Paul Levikow confirmed the matter had been investigated, and that prosecutors planned no further action.

Preston on Tuesday said he could not comment on the matter.

"I've been directed by administrators not to discuss the matter," Preston said. "If I do discuss it with the media, I could be subject to discipline."

Zoll did not return a call for comment Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, city officials refused to release significant parts of a study on the police department's management and operations conducted by a consultant in May and early June. Read more about that in the full article on the North County Times.

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