Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Fired Willits Police Lieutenant Accused of Abusing His Power Faces Decertification by the State of California

A photograph of Derek Hendry obtained via public records request from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office
[The original photograph was extremely saturated so we used a black and white filter for visual clarity]

Raymond Derek Hendry, a former lieutenant with the Willits Police Department, is under investigation by California’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training(POST). Hendry’s law enforcement credentials are temporarily suspended while the governing agency looks into claims of abuse of power and demonstrating bias.

Hendry has become well-known in Mendocino County since he was accused of multiple transgressions against women he worked with at Willits Police Department and a female civilian he allegedly forced into sexual acts while in police uniform. 

POST specifies that the “temporary suspension” of a police officer’s certification results in the immediate revocation of their credentials “pending the outcome of an investigation related to allegations of serious misconduct.” 

There are four specific circumstances that result in “temporary suspension”:

  • “when a peace officer is arrested or indicted for a felony or other crime listed in GC§ 1029,
  • when a peace officer is discharged from a law enforcement agency for serious misconduct, or
  • when a peace officer has separated from employment as a peace officer during a pending investigation into allegations of serious misconduct.
  • The temporary suspension remains in effect until either a final determination is made by the Commission or the Executive Director withdraws the “temporary suspension” if a withdrawal is deemed to be warranted.”

It is unclear what circumstances led to Hendry’s decertification. We know as early as August 2022, Hendry was the target of a criminal investigation. Lake County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Lauren Berlinn told us at the time that LCSO’s Major Crimes Unit served a search warrant on Hendry’s Ukiah home.

In December 2022, Willits Police Chief Fabian Lizaraga told us in an interview that LCSO’s findings resulted in him forwarding charging recommendations to the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office for District Attorney David Eyster to determine whether formal charges would be filed against Hendry. 

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We reached out to both Chief Lizaraga and DA Eyster for the status of the criminal proceedings and whether their investigations prompted Hendry’s temporary suspension. At the time of publication, we have yet to hear back. 

Before his time at the Willits Police Department, Hendry worked at the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy but was terminated. He rose up through the ranks at the Willits Police Department where his alleged indiscretions include sexually harassing a female officer on the force, creating a hostile work environment for a female police chief that quit the agency after one month, and committing multiple acts of sexual violence on a Willits woman while wearing his uniform inside his police vehicle.

Since the California Decertification list went into effect on January 1, 2023, the result of Senate Bill 2 designed to eliminate problematic law enforcement officers from the profession, two Mendocino County cops have landed on the list. 

Former Fort Bragg Police Sergeant Christopher Award was the Golden State’s first police officer to officially become decertified. Unlike Hendry, Awad voluntarily surrendered his credentials. He was terminated from his position in Fort Bragg for admittedly engaging in a sexual, consensual relationship with a woman he arrested and perceptions his testimony in court purposefully undermined the prosecutor’s case.

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  1. So once again a law enforcement officer from Mendocino County has been investigated by an outside agency for allegedly committing a sexual assault offense and the Mendocino County DA, David Eyster has sat on the results and has refused to either charge or even discuss the case. Yeah yeah everyone knows you can’t discuss a case but you can sure as hell file it! I know I’m not the only person who is disgusted by what is going on here.

    Let me make myself very clear. Mendocino County has many hard working men and women law enforcement agents who do a wonderful job. I thank each and every one of you for all you do. It’s just a shame that the highest ranking law enforcement agent is failing to enforce the law and protect the women of Mendocino County. It’s time for further action!

  2. Agreed, Porter! The bad actors in local law enforcement harm the reputation of the good people in law enforcement and erode community trust in a crucial institution. Good LEOs deserve better than to be put at additional risk due to the continued tolerance of bad LEOs.

    Law enforcement officers should have the respect and admiration of the community because they are held to a higher standard, but instead we have situations that cause the community to doubt them because the institution will sometimes provide cover for them when they fail to achieve even the normal standard to which the rest of the community is held.

    Something dramatic needs to happen to help the community regain trust that we should have in our law enforcement. Having LEOs speak out publicly and be protected in doing so when they know something is wrong in their ranks is a critical place to start.

  3. With all the trouble he has coming his way, and the charges against him currently, one would think that that Derek would be on his best behavior….NOPE!! Derek instead chose to follow me and my boyfriend into Running Creek casino a few weeks ago, screaming, yelling, spit flying out of his mouth, chest bumping my boyfriend ( who has severe COPD and congestive heart failure) threatening to kill us both and my children, calling me a piece of shit…all because I spoke up for Lorna Allen and said I believed her not him…oh ya, did I mention that Derek is genetically related to me…I will NOT call him family, cuz he isn’t and never will b again despite whatever DNA we have in common…security stood there and did nothing…so I filed a police report and fully intend to press charges when and the Sergeant of the lake county sheriff’s department calls me back when he returns to work. If that doesn’t work, I’ll go to the DA myself and insist on it…this is bullshit, the rest of the world has to be accountable for their actions, he should to

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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