IFAS | Freedom Writer | May/June 1991 | revbob.html

Fundamentalist cop under fire

With its chief of police, Daryl E. Gates, under pressure to resign over the beating of a black motorist, the Los Angeles Police Department has had its hands full. Now, its number two officer, Assistant Police Chief Robert Vernon, is under fire for his rad ical religious views.

Vernon, often referred to as "Rev. Bob," has been accused of discriminating against women and gays in a police department which some have condemned as being brutal, sexist, and homophobic. The assistant chief is in charge of virtually every promotion in t he 8,300-member department. There are no openly gay persons in the department, and women in the department find advancement difficult.

Vernon, who bases his views on a strict interpretation of the Bible, maintains that women should be submissive to men, and that homosexuality is wrong. Additionally, he advocates the beating of rebellious children. In "The True Masculine Role," a seri es of audiocassette tapes hawked by Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, where Vernon is an elder, he says, "I've spanked kids as old as 16 to 17 years old. I'll spank them. I mean hit them with a boat oar... It's solid. I haven't broken one yet." He enc ourages parents to apply corporal punishment to unruly children, saying, "You must break them. If it takes beatings, you give them beatings. It really does demonstrate love to discipline someone."

Chief Vernon, who says he reads his Bible every night, maintains that police officers are "ministers of God."

Recently, a judge ordered Vernon to pay $10,000 to Michael Zinzun, a political activist, in a defamation and civil rights suit. The same jury ordered the City of Los Angeles to pay $3.83 million to Zinzun because Vernon used a police computer to gather a nd spread information about Zinzun, who was running for a city office in Pasadena.

Civil rights leaders are concerned that Rev. Bob maybe in line for chief of police should Daryl Gates resign.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.