Hours before Chad Bianco was sworn in Tuesday as Riverside County sheriff, he placed openly gay Capt. David Kurylowicz, who had accused Bianco of making homophobic statements, on paid administrative leave. Bianco has denied making any such statements.
Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Chris Willison confirmed that Kurylowicz had been removed as commander of the Moreno Valley station and that Lt. Dave Lelevier has taken Kurylowicz’s place.
But otherwise, Willison would not comment on the situation. It wasn’t known if the move to place Kurylowicz on leave was rooted in Bianco’s successful 2018 election campaign to defeat Sheriff Stan Sniff, who was publicly supported by Kurylowicz.
Kurylowicz did not respond to two requests for comment for this story.
Kurylowicz and Bianco had argued loudly at an event in February 2018 about whether Kurylowicz had tried to persuade the Police Officers Research Association of California, which says it represents the interests of 70,000 officers in the state, not to endorse Bianco.
In an audio recording posted on the blog Right on Daily, Kurylowicz is heard complaining that Bianco is calling him a liar.
“I’m not calling you a liar but I’m telling you that I won’t believe anything you say,” Bianco says.
Responds Kurylowicz: “You say you’re a man of integrity; prove it.”
During that argument, Kurylowicz told the Desert Sun newspaper, Bianco said there would be no place for “people like you” in the department, which Kurylowicz believed to be an anti-LGBTQ statement.
Then on Sept. 20, Kurylowicz spoke during the public comment period at the Palm Springs City Council meeting, where he told council members that he has been married to his husband for more than 16 years.
“I happen to be the target of a very vicious and vile attack by a candidate who is applying for the top police position for our county,” Kurylowicz said. “I am concerned for my community. As a gay man, I’ve faced ridicule and public humiliation by the Bianco campaign for my lifestyle. My husband has also faced similar troubles.
“If this person is willing to do this to me — a veteran police officer for 26 years — I’m worried about what is going to happen with my community. It is real, and it is happening to me,” Kurylowicz said, his voice breaking.
Kurylowicz did not provide any specific statements to the City Council that Bianco said to support his claim, Palm Springs Mayor Pro Tem J.R. Roberts said in an interview with television station KMIR (NBC Palm Springs). Roberts also said Sniff and Kurylowicz met with City Councilman Geoff Kohrs leading up to the meeting.
Kurylowicz told KMIR that he considered himself a victim of cyberbullying. Kurylowicz also told the Desert Sun that he believed that the Bianco campaign was directing Right On Daily, where sheriff’s deputies and others make anonymous posts, some of them mocking Kurylowicz.
Bianco, in an interview with KMIR in September, said one of his brothers is gay and that he would never make homophobic statements. Bianco accused Sniff’s campaign of being behind Kurylowicz’s statements and added that his own campaign had no connection to Right On Daily, which supported Bianco.
“The current sheriff has absolutely nothing to stand on, so this is where we’re going to take this campaign. Not about how we’re going to better the community, not about how we’re going to better the department. Let’s say Chad is a homophobe … let’s just make it up,” Bianco told KMIR.
Two messages were sent to Sniff seeking comment.