Top LAFD official accessed confidential complaint files while under investigation

Local news
L.A. Fire Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas, left, speaks at a news conference with Mayor Eric Garcetti.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

L.A. Fire Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas, left, speaks at a news conference with Mayor Eric Garcetti.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Since May, the top administrative commander of the Los Angeles Fire Department, Chief Deputy Fred Mathis, has been under investigation for allegedly being impaired by alcohol or drugs while overseeing the agency’s operations center during the Palisades fire.

But as the inquiry continued, Mathis was still able to access the LAFD’s confidential complaint system that contains sensitive information about the allegations against him, including the names of witnesses in the case, The Times has learned. Department critics say that could have exposed the witnesses to possible retaliation.

After The Times inquired about the matter, the LAFD confirmed that Mathis had logged into the system while under investigation. Spokeswoman Cheryl Getuiza said the department has revoked Mathis’ access but could not determine which information he reviewed. Getuiza said the LAFD notified the witnesses and received no reports of retaliation.

Getuiza declined to say precisely when Mathis’ access was revoked or how many times he gained entry into the system. That is now part of the investigation, Getuiza said. She said the probe also has been broadened to examine allegations that Mathis misused a city credit card and vehicle. In addition, it is examining whether Mathis was allowed to drive himself home at some point after he was reported to be under the influence, Getuiza said.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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