Cathedral City Police Chief Travis Walker started a new security training and consulting business in July while on paid leave amid a sexual harassment suit filed by a former police dispatcher.
Walker registered the business, Aspis Safety Inc., on July 24. He has been on leave since early May and is continuing to be paid his annual city salary of approximately $223,000 while an investigation continues.
According to Cathedral City’s employment regulations, which City Manager Charlie McClendon signed into effect in July, current senior city staff such as the police chief must receive permission from the city manager to start a new job or establish a new business.
When asked by The Desert Sun on Thursday whether he knew Walker had started the new company, McClendon replied: “No.”
Christopher Parman, the city’s spokesman, said in an email Thursday that Walker is still employed by the city and his administrative leave is ongoing. Asked whether the city manager had permitted Walker to start Aspis Safety while continuing to cash his city paycheck, Parman said: “Because this involves a personnel matter with an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment at this time.”
According to Aspis Safety’s website, which was created on July 26, interested parties can schedule a security consultation with “Chief Executive Officer Travis Walker” and can hire him to “conduct speaking engagements.”
Walker’s bio page on the Aspis Safety website makes no mention of his employment as Cathedral City’s chief of police.
“With more than two decades of law enforcement and risk management experience, along with a notable training resume, Travis is an eminent expert and dynamic speaker on Violence Prevention, Mitigation, and Response,” the website reads.
Aspis Safety’s website says the business provides training to counterworkplace violence and active shooters. It does not list rates for these services, or make reference to any clients. As for the company name, the website says the Aspis “is one of the greatest shields ever used to protect those from harm.”
Contacted by The Desert Sun on Thursday, Walker confirmed he was still employed by Cathedral City. “This is a side business I have been working on for some time now,” Walker wrote in an email.
The company’s website does not list other employees or individuals involved. Aspis Safety’s business registration filing does not show any company officers other than Walker.
Walker was put on paid leave May 2 for what McClendon and other city officials described as a “personnel matter.” The department’s deputy chief, Anthony Yoakum, was appointed acting chief and the city confirmed an outside law firm had been hired by the city’s labor liability insurer to investigate Walker.
On July 30, Loran Candelas, a police department dispatcher, sued Walker and the city for sexual harassment in a graphic complaint alleging Walker made sexual advances in the workplace and attempted to force her to have sex with him while in a hotel during a work conference.
Saku Ethir, Walker’s attorney, provided The Desert Sun with a written statement the day the suit was filed in July, saying Walker “vehemently denies the allegations which have been reported on.”
“We are confident Chief Walker’s name and reputation will continue to be cleared through the respective processes in place,” Ethir wrote in an email.
According to documents disclosed via a public records request, Walker continues to receive a monthly salary of $16,762.37 with an additional 10% education stipend, amounting to $1,676.24. Including the chief’s $135 monthly uniform allowance, Walker likely gets paid $18,573.61 a month — or almost $223,000 a year.
The regulations signed by McClendon on July 17 state senior city staff, including the chief of police, cannot “engage in any outside employment, enterprise, or remunerated activity without the prior approval of his/her department head or appointing power,” according to the “Regulations Covering Executive, Administrative, Professional, Confidential and Other Particular Employees.”
Parman, the city’s spokesperson, said via email that the section concerning outside employment has “been in existence throughout Chief Walker’s employment with the city.”
Desert Sun reporter Christopher Damien covers crime, public safety and the criminal justice system. He can be reached at email@example.com or follow him at @chris_a_damien.
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