David Paul Edmiston, the former acting police chief of the Kern High School District who was arrested in October after a subordinate officer discovered he was being illegally recorded, pleaded no contest Thursday to one misdemeanor count of criminal eavesdropping — but he’ll likely never be sentenced for the crime.

That’s because the Kern County District Attorney’s office offered the longtime police officer a deferred entry of judgement, meaning Edmiston will only be sentenced in April 2018 if he breaks the law again, his lawyer, Kyle Humphrey, said.

“My client isn’t the lawbreaking type of fellow, and if he successfully avoids any other violations of the law, he can withdraw his plea and the case will be dismissed without him being guilty of anything,” Humphrey said.

Charges were filed after Edmiston called at least one employee into his office for interviews and recorded him without his knowledge or consent. It happened on four separate occasions, according to a District Attorney’s office news release from November.

Lt. Jerald Wyatt — who played a part in uncovering what’s alleged to be a decades-long practice of district administrators illegally misusing a sensitive police information database — reported Edmiston to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office in October after he discovered he was being illegally recorded in Edmiston’s office.

KHSD placed Edmiston on administrative leave that month. Meanwhile, Wyatt filed a government claim last week against the district alleging whistleblower retaliation, a precursor to a civil lawsuit.

Those recordings have been under court seal, and the nature of the conversations are not known in detail. The DA's office declined to release them Friday, citing privacy restrictions.

Wyatt’s lawyer, Seth O’Dell, has said that they deal broadly with personnel issues and include discussions about other officers. Releasing them could violate the Peace Officers Bill of Rights, he added.

Humphrey wouldn’t discuss specifically why Edmiston was recording Wyatt, but called the matter a misunderstanding.

Edmiston thought he “could record a conversation if (he) didn’t intend to use it for anything other than personal notes at a later date,” Humphrey said.

“As far as what Mr. Edmiston did, it really was a mistake that he didn’t understand that other people would perceive it as differently as it was. You know, there’s just no evidence whatsoever that it was being used by or for the benefit of any other person, or the benefit of Mr. Edmiston,” Humphrey said.

Edmiston remains on administrative leave from the district, but could rejoin the department in some capacity.

An officer who has pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor could continue working for a police department, said acting KHSD Police Chief Ed Komin, pending the results of an internal affairs investigation.

The acting chief — who answers to civilian administrators at KHSD — would determine “what type of discipline would be imposed, if any,” Komin said.

Because of the district’s size, wobbling somewhere between a small and medium police force, the internal affairs investigation could be handled by police officers within the department, or be tasked to an outside agency, Komin said.

(8) comments

Jpb1055
Jpb1055

It's very easy to say, YOU'RE FIRED!

Concerncitizen
Concerncitizen

If memory was a concern then would not have this officer recorded everyone including his meetings with Superintendants? How come only charges related to one officer and not any of the superintendants? One would assume there had to be meetings that took place with them also because he was the acting Chief. Accepting the argument it was an honest mistake (highly unlikely) and memory was an issue how is this officer going to be effective working in the capacity as a police officer? Don't they have to have a good memory to do their jobs?

Matt
Matt

Let me get this right. The office didn't know he was breaking the law? How many times do officers hear this from the public? And how often does it work as a defense? Madness.

Concerncitizen
Concerncitizen

It seems to appear the KHSD administration does reward loyalty to those that help hide the corruption that has been taking place for many years one would have to assume.

amtfor attorneys
amtfor attorneys

does it matter if u want to get rid of him then u better clean house at the court house theres a lot of bull going on there also

CampusSupervisor
CampusSupervisor

If Komin keeps this guy on the force, that woukld be a mistake. Time to start draing the swamp over there. Big test for Komin - lets see if he has the backbone to fire him. And hmmm ... no hint at all that this guy was on cohoots with District Supts? Guess we will never know until Wyatt's lawsuits goes to trial.

Itzme
Itzme

What a crock of malarkey! He's been an officer for a long time. If he doesn't know or follow the law, how can he be an officer??? When is the corruption going to end in this department? Did he apologize to the two officers, yes TWO officers that he illegally recorded? Are their reputations going to be restored?

Concerncitizen
Concerncitizen

As have been following this story early on I find this unlikely with his experiences and credentials as a law enforcement officer that he did not know what he was doing was illegal? If that were the case why would he not have asked the officers up front if he could record their meetings and explain his reasons? I am also concerned that the current acting chief in this article stated that he must answer to civilian non law enforcement superiors? KHSD Trustees you are elected by us citizens I respectfully request you start doing your jobs.

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