WeHo Public Safety Director Kristin Cook Accused of Abusive Behavior Toward Her Staff

Employees of the City of West Hollywood’s Public Safety Department have accused their boss, Public Safety Director Kristin Cook, of abusive behavior.

Those allegations recently prompted WeHOME, the West Hollywood Municipal Employees Union, to file a complaint that resulted in a City Hall hearing last Thursday. The hearing was said to have been lengthy and to have involved City Manager Paul Arevalo among others. In support of the hearing, members of the union wore WeHOME t-shirts to work that day, with many of them wearing “anti-bullying” badges

West Hollywood Public Safety Director Kristin Cook

Alison Reagan, WeHOME’s spokesperson, confirmed that the hearing took place but would not discuss specifics of the union’s complaint. However, she said, “we are interested in a place where no manager or director may frequently bully staff through frequent screaming and tantrums.” Reagan said there will be a follow-up hearing, likely within the next week or so.

WEHOville reached out to Cook and the city’s spokesperson for a comment on the allegations. As of publication Cook has not responded and the city has no comment.

Cook is one of 10 city directors who report to Arevalo. She has been a city employee since 1999, oversees a staff of four and is the liaison with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, with which the city contracts for public safety services under a $20.4 million contract, and with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, which provides fire protection services to West Hollywood.

Cook had a salary of $251,168 a year in 2017, with health and retirement benefits of an additional $70,280. That information comes from PublicPay.com, to which the city’s website provides a link. However, that site has not been updated to provide the latest salary information.

Cook also is one of two Public Safety staffers who attend the monthly meetings of the city’s Public Safety Commission. That commission is composed of seven members, five of whom are appointed by individual City Council members and the other two of whom are elected at-large. The Commission’s role is to “evaluate and recommend suggestions involving public safety issues, to assist the City Manager’s office and the City Council in strengthening community response to emergencies, and to evaluate and make recommendations regarding neighborhood livability issues.”

Current and former Public Safety commissioners have complained privately about Cook’s efforts to silence discussion of controversial issues. The Commission is known for being relatively docile, with most of its members rarely asking difficult questions of the law enforcement officials who attend the meeting with the exception of Tory Berger, an appointee of City Councilmember Lauren Meister, whose probing questions sometimes have been silenced. Robert Oliver, former vice chair of the Commission, caused a stir when he abruptly resigned from that position in February because all but one of his fellow Commission members refused to condemn then-Mayor John Duran, who was facing allegations of inappropriate conduct with young members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles and who had made derogatory public comments about his fellow Council members sex lives.

  1. Many of the city employees like to hide behind closed doors. The community suffers and gets priced out of this city due to concerns of expense to live in this city or needed in help all the while the city’s budget goes to city bureaucracy. Do residents have a union and this is the first staffers confront its own. When the city says there are no additional funds having no resources all the while committing to pension funds and salaries like hers over a quarter of a million dollars a year with a 20 year span. That’s the irony, city staffers are there literally st the expense of tax payers and people trying to get housing or assistance in rental or remaining in this community is OVERSHADOWED by EMPLOEE Pensions and Salaries that have become too generous or inflated for LA County standards. Even the City Manager makes close to or beyond 300,000 a year!

    I try my best to deal with personalities but many in director positions. Even Paul the city manager never spoke to him even when I asked at a public event. Some will pull power trips or blatantly just ignore you I have found to be dismissive or unhelpful.

    1. I have a page on my website called C.O.R.E. Which stands for Council of Residential Engagement, which is in effect a “Residents Union” as You suggested. There need to be much more transparency and Resident involvement.

      1. Eric, we’re sitting here wondering how many at the top of the city govt actually live in WeHo. City council members do, right? Does the city manager live in WeHo? The directors? (I see there are a number of them when I go to the salary link).

  2. People need to stop complaining about other people who make more than them.

    She is obviously annoyed by having to pick-up the slack from her employees who are not rising to the occasion.

    She is making that much money because she has proven her worth.

    Try proving yours.

    1. here’s something you need to understand: when you intimidate and bully people, you are worth NOTHING. you can be a multi-millionaire and you are still worth NOTHING. same if you enable people who intimidate and bully. sounds like a number of adults are saying she treated them this way. why on earth should they be doubted? blaming the victim(s) is a sign of guilt usually. also, city council should be taking action against anyone in management who allows this kind of thing to happen.

      1. If they pulled their weight, I doubt she would “bully” them, as you say. Everyone who can’t cut it complains they are being “bullied”. Toughen up, snowflakes.

    2. Let’s let her tell us what she has done to prove that she deserves that amount of pay. She would be speechless.

  3. That’s an unacceptably high salary for any type of city employee. Presumably she is one of many people reaping unreasonable benefits, so thanks for the reveal. I hope her replacement makes half that amount.

    1. yeah, those director salaries are mind boggling. now would like to know more about why they got promoted into these positions. as one of the many taxpayers paying city salaries, i certainly don’t want to be supporting anyone who’s abusive or who promotes abusive people.

  4. I haven’t been reading this marvelous rag for a long time, but this is the kind of reporting we need. Not the dirt so much as what is behind the scenes.

    Ms Cook is making a comfortable salary. Is that average for a city of 36,000?

    Bullying is not an acceptable office practice or behavior.

  5. It can be assumed the Union (or a rogue member) approached Wehoville about this while the complaint is still in-process. That completely subverts said process and attempts to bring the court of public opinion into an internal and confidential personnel issue. I personally think that was a poor choice.

    1. In the corporate world, the “process” is often purposely drawn out to wear the victims down. It can also be assumed in companies who do this that there is a history of many complaints about similar situations that have been covered up. Not saying this is the whistleblower’s reasoning, but people do get fed up.

    2. Yes, that’s called freedom of the press, and it’s enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution. The source of the information is irrelevant if the journalist is doing his/her job in substantiating the allegations.

      1. Also irrelevant if the source is telling the truth about abuse. The usual reaction by entities protecting the abuser is to try to discredit and shame the victim(s). It will be quite telling if that route is taken. This should prove interesting. Well written story.

  6. Wow. So how was a history of unethical behavior covered up? Are there others? Why would our city tolerate an OUNCE of this? Not good.

  7. “Cook had a salary of $251,168 a year in 2017?” Wow – where can I do a job poorly that gets paid so much? She’ll probably get a huge payout to walk away and not sue. What’s wrong with this picture??

  8. Yet more anecdotal evidence that the culture at city hall is imperious, condescending, arrogant and grossly entrenched in a comfortably ensconced bureaucracy of obscenely overpaid civil servants. The captain of the ship sets the tone and tolerates abusive behavior, or he doesn’t. Change is way overdue at the top, and NOT by promoting from within. New blood at city hall and new blood on city council.

    1. 2 Things: not all are overpaid… you have no idea what some of them have to deal with. Also, this is probably the tip of the iceberg regarding great workers being treated like crap and the powers being fine with that.

  9. This is priceless. When I complained to Ms Cook in 2013 about abusive bullying treatment I got at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, from more than one deputy behind the counter wearing guns, she called it “bad customer service”.

    1. She told me the same after I appealed to her for help in the realm of public safety.

      She asked me what I wanted her to do; she didn’t really give me options. I wasn’t the first she brushed off, I clearly wasn’t her last, and this was a very serious matter. (This city does take consent and rape seriously, yes?)

      She’s a menace. She can go.

  10. Ha-Ha!
    An alleged, entitled, $250, 000+ benefits bullying Public Safety Director. Perfect!
    What’s next inside the kingdom?

Comments are closed.