Brea Police! Yorba Linda Council! County Sheriff! Unions! Murder!


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Brea Police patch

How do I thank my tipster for turning me onto this story? Read on until the end

This post is written at the suggestion of our commenter Kenlaysnotdead — a sentiment that I suspect, by the way, to be true — at the bottom of the comments section of this New Santa Ana thread — who wants to know why I don’t cover local Brea issues.  The answer to that is that for the most part I’m a happy camper (actually a happy renter) here in my multi-ethnic corner of my lovely city and, as a Democrat, I’m not going to have a lot of say in what the Council does anyway.  But KLND, as I’ll call him, does raise an interesting story, so I checked it out, and this is what I found.

[UPDATE, 1/3/12:  WARNING TO THE READER, BEFORE YOU CONTINUE.  THIS HAS NOW PRETTY MUCH BEEN CERTIFIED AS THE MOST BORING ORANGE JUICE BLOG STORY EVER.  VERN’S RECAP OF 2011 STORIES IS MUCH MORE INTERESTING AND YOU SHOULD EITHER READ IT FIRST/INSTEAD OR USE IT TO CLEANSE YOUR MIND AFTER YOU FINISH THIS.  THE ONLY THING THAT CAN POSSIBLY SALVAGE THIS STORY IS THE TWIST NEAR THE END REGARDING HOW IT CAME TO BE WRITTEN AT ALL.  PLUS THERE’S A MEETING YOU CAN GO TO TONIGHT IF THIS SOMEHOW AROUSES YOUR INTEREST DESPITE EVERYTHING.  CONTINUE AT YOUR OWN RISK.]

The goad to write this story

As KLND reported to me, the City of Yorba Linda (“YL”) is considering breaking its long-term contract with the Brea Police Department (“BPD”) to cover police services in YL.  It would switch to receiving service from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department “OCSD.”  A spokesbeing for either the OCSD or the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (“AOCDS”) — I’m not sure which, because I was given the acronym “AOCSD,” but there doesn’t seem to be an Association of Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies, which you have to admit would be awfully confusing — is being brought on board to catapult the propaganda for the county services.  Breans (at least two of them) are apparently coming unglued — or, as we say here in light of our name, untarred — over the prospect of losing the services contract.

In fact, let me share with you KLND’s actual triple push for my coverage here:

[1] Diamond, On a side note, I had lunch in North County today, where a couple of Breans were coming unglued about the rumor of the OCSD taking over police services in Yorba Linda. In a wierd string of commonality, the news spokesperson for the AOCSD name came up as being brought on to help the propaganda war.

What does this mean for Brea, Yorba linda and the county at large. Maybe worth giving Brea Councilmember [Ron] Garcia a call, I think he was a holdout on the Fire thing???

[2] Greg, I would expect you as a Brean to write about the subject, Chris P as a Union Steward (for PUBLIC EMPLOYEES)to write about it, you both are passionate and in this case have “skin in the game”.

As far as it being a rumor: http://www.ocregister.com/news/city-325283-council-linda.html

This I found after tyoing YL POLICE into Google, I also saw links to a website, where people were offered lawn signs and asked to call thier local officials.

Maybe it was a rumor, because as we all know, the OCR can’t be trusted to report facts! (joke)

FOX NEWS gets a lot of shit deservedly for thier “Fair and Balanced” reporting deal. I would just like to see stakeholders put some attention into thier own local stories like they do Santa Ana’s. then it would be a little more believable.

[3] [T]he aforementined BPOA (Brea’s Police Union), which is lead by Triggerman Shawn Neel, the guy who gunned down the unarmed suspect last summer is leading an effort today calling residents and going door to door pusing the agenda.

On the other side, the AOCSD is getting ready to launch an offensive (competing bid).

This would be worthy of mention in an article.

Like KLND, you may wonder: “What does this mean for Brea, Yorba Linda and Orange County at large?”  My suspicion is that it is bad for the BPD, good for the OCSD, and probably good for YL for the two service providers to get into a bidding war.  But let’s not stop there.  Let’s get into the story itself!

The basic facts … and more!

According to this story from the Orange County Register of Santa Ana, which is excellent and informative and which you should read for the basic facts, Yorba Linda is negotiating another extension for the police services contract that it has had with the City of Brea since 1970.  Yorba Linda is happy with the service, but not the price, so it in November it gave BPD 18 months’ notice that it may terminate.  The OCSD would certainly consider taking on the account, which is set to expire on June 30 (presumably 2013.)

This dramatic interchange gives you much of what you need to know about the personae involved:

“Give us the opportunity before you pull the trigger on 42 excellent years of service,” Police Chief Jack Conklin asked the council, hoping to avoid the angst in the department and in the families of the officers assigned to Yorba Linda over a possible termination. “I think we can find structural changes without having to cut services and be able to do this with less money.”

Councilmen Tom Lindsey and Jim Winder opposed giving Brea a notice of termination; Lindsey saying he wasn’t willing to throw all those years of good service “under the bus” when many of the council’s concerns and questions could be answered in a few months.

“You know as well as I know that this is not a termination of the contract; it is to put you on notice that hey, let’s get negotiating here and earn our business, we are a contract city,” Councilman John Anderson told Chief Conklin after voicing frustration with several aspects of the agreement.

Brea Police Department supporters whip out … a website!

A website, YorbaLindaPolice.com, has sprung into being to fight the (from its perspective) nefarious three-person council majority, which includes the frustrated Councilman Anderson.  This website includes a 2-1/2 page, three-column list of people who have pledged as follows:

We support our local Yorba Linda Police and oppose any efforts by the Yorba Linda City Council to end our 42 year relationship with the Brea Police Department which has provided our community with excellent public safety.

The defenders of BPD’s continued contract with YL present the basic facts this way:

Yorba Linda residents will pay $179 per resident for Police Services by the Brea Police Department, based on the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

Should Yorba Linda pursue other police service options? It would appear that the option of a stand-alone Yorba Linda Police Department is too expensive compared to the service contract with Brea. Plus, the City has no facility, or the promise of one, from which to provide this service.

Service from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department is an excellent option, except service would likely be from their main facility in Santa Ana. The City of Placentia does not appear to be a good option from a financial perspective. The City of Anaheim would appear to be the best option outside of the City of Brea given its size and substantial resources and the proximity of one its substations to the City.

Generally, however, this report concludes that Yorba Linda probably would be best served by continuing its service with Brea.”

This is followed by many citizens saying nice things about the BPD.

The site presents a direct appeal to Yorba Lindans everywhere:

On November 1st, 2011, you and 2 members of your City Council were blindsided by a conceived plan to trigger the termination clause of the police services contract, and possibly replace the Brea Police Department, an agency that has served this community well for 42 years. What appeared to start as an “administrative report on potential future options for provision of law enforcement services” (Agenda Item 11), turned into a 3 to 2 vote to exercise the termination clause of our contract with the Brea Police Department.There was no opportunity for residents of Yorba Linda to express their opinions on the matter. However, provision was made to allow Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Sandra Hutchens to make a lengthy presentation for her organization to replace the BPD. She suggested, setting aside the several million dollars in up front costs to launch the relationship, that the OCSD might provide Yorba Linda with a substantial savings for law enforcement. 

We all wish it were that simple, but it’s clearly not.

This proposal did not include cost of vehicles, vehicle maintenence, motorcycles, computers, and a facility to house the officers. The central command for the Sheriff is located in Santa Ana. Residents are concerned about response times to violent crimes.

 

 

The site also contains a list of Yorba Linda Register articles that offer a lot of coverage and commentary. not all of which, admittedly, I read, but which I commend to you with relative enthusiasm.

It is in the comments section of the first Brea Register article, cited above, however, that caught my eye — not only because it seemed to drill down to the real nut of the issue, but because it reminded me of all that is fascinating (and daunting) about getting involved in local politics, where everything is personal.

A Register Top Commenter — which, interest duly declared, I am as well — named Ed Rakochy had this to say:

I noticed that Brea PD or Brea PD supporters have started their own Facebook page, which is attempting to scare the public in to thinking the City Council is eliminating Brea PD. This is the furthest thing from the truth. The Council had to give notice to terminate the contract in order to re-negotiate a new contract, because notice is a clause in the contract. This is about trying to get more control in the negotiating process and save taxpayers money and not dumping Brea PD. Stop with the scare tactics already.

This appears to be the forerunner of the website to which I link above.  The self-proclaimed creator of the website, Jeff Johnson, says that the page is factual, that he is a Yorba Linda resident who just wants to inform the community, etc.  The two continue to discuss things amicably.

Then, two days later, Top Commenter Jan Lavery Horton weighed in:

Mr [Rakochy] made the same statements at the Council meeting: stating the termination of the police contract was necessary to negotiate a new contract. He also stated here and at the Council meeting that the Council would not eliminate Brea PD. What I asked last night and I will ask again, how does he know this? How can he promise this? He is NOT on Council. He IS a staunch defender of Anderson and the majority Council. Possibly he is aware that this is another political ploy. I am sorry, but I for one am tired of games. I believe you negotiate in good faith. If the negotiations are not going well, then you seek to replace your service. But this was not the case with the Brea contract. At this point in time, staff felt they were making progress with their negotiations and I feel they should have been allowed to complete the task prior to the Councils actions.

Nine days later, her apparent co-position-holder Barbara Winnie moves in for the kill!

$40,000 was spent from YL taxpayers for an independent review, which indicated Brea Pd was the best police service for the money. Now another 12,000 to review the proposals. The termination clause is not for getting competitor bids. City manager researched that and recommended Brea Pd. Shame on those 3 council members for playing politics. That will hurt 2 coming up for re-election.

Bam!  How ya like me now, Mr. Rakochy?  We may never know, because he did not return to the comments section to reply to the comments left respectively more than one and two weeks after his.

So, quite apart from the merits of the Brea bid and the Sheriff’s bid, was Rakochy correct that the contract required notice of termination more than 18 months in advance of the end of the contract, in which event the notice given and seeking out competing bids was, well, pretty standard?  Or by giving such notice was the Council misusing the termination clause, acting in “bad faith”, which “will hurt 2”?  This seems to be the crux of the disagreement.  Who’s right?  It depends on the language of the contract, which at this point wild horses could probably not drag me off to read.

The interesting wrinkle!

I have to admit: despite KLND’s goading, I was not sure that I was going to write about this story at all.  But this caught my attention:

The aforementined BPOA (Brea’s Police Union), which is lead by Triggerman Shawn Neel, the guy who gunned down the unarmed suspect last summer is leading an effort today calling residents and going door to door pusing the agenda. On the other side, the AOCSD is getting ready to launch an offensive (competing bid). This would be worthy of mention in an article.

Now this, as opposed to the relatively unremarkable prospect that a city wishing to renegotiate a service contract might convey the intention of possibly terminating said contract, seemed interesting!  Not, I should say, because of the involvement of a police union (or two), which are rumored to like to have more jobs and therefore more members, but because of the description of Triggerman Shawn Neel, gunner-down (gun-downer?) of an unarmed suspect and now door-to-door agenda pusher.

There certainly did seem to be a story here — one of parental neglect!  Seriously — if you name your kid “Triggerman,” what the hell do you expect of him?  Of course he’s going to kill people.

Upon review of a state-of-the-art Google search (“Shawn Neel” and Brea), I found that his first name is apparently just “Shawn” — but they were still good reading.  They tell you a bit about the various publications in our area.

For example, here’s a pretty straight story from OC Weekly:

The Orange County District Attorney’s office (OCDA) today released an 11-page letter based on its investigation of last year’s police shooting of the late Julian “Jules” Collender, but it is the final two paragraphs that say it all: “Based on all the evidence presented to and obtained by the OCDA, and based on the entirety of the facts contained in all the available reports we reviewed, and pursuant to the applicable legal precedents,  it is our legal opinion that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Detective [ShawnNeel committed a crime on June 30, 2010, when he shot Collender, causing his death.

“Accordingly, the OCDA is closing its inquiry into this incident.”

There’s a lot more great stuff there, including what seems like a pretty complete and objective timeline of events leading up to the shooting.  It’s too much to summarize; click the link.

A later OC Weekly story announces the federal lawsuit brought by Collender’s family, which includes the following quote:

The death of Jules and treatment of his parents have drawn protests in front of Brea PD and in the chambers of the Yorba Linda City Council, which has even been urged to kill its contract with the police agency.

You can read more about Det. Neel at the site created to complain about Collender’s killing, Justice for Julian.

How about the comments section of Topix.com, from a writer using the presumable pseudonym of “Det Shawn Neel Brea PD”?

Detective Shawn Neel from the Brea Police Department – Come out and stop hiding-tell the truth – your man enough to pull a trigger of an assualt rifle with all your cop backup around you, but you know you are wrong and a murdering coward- why are you the only one that pulled the trigger? Where is the video? Stop hiding- you wanted to be a cop- man up and come out-coward- take responsibility for your cowardly actions- Julian is more of a man than you will ever be and you know that- you killed an unarmed man in cold blood – you are a criminal not a cop.

Well now!  OK, then!

The Register has written about Detective Neel in his union leader capacity:

The pension rollbacks where not an “easy pill to swallow”, said Detective Shawn Neel, president of the Brea Police Association. But given the poor economy, the police union knew it had to accept a less-generous package than before, he added.

“We needed to do everything that we could to make sure nobody missed a mortgage payment because they were laid off,” Neel said. “It will sound corny, but if you can forgo a raise and allow somebody else to maintain employment – to me that is a no brainer.”

Layoffs were never part of negotiations, but Neel said if his bargaining unit didn’t accept a reduction, he figured some city employees would have lost their jobs.

Interesting — a union guy who was willing to negotiate — my pulse is not racing here, but perhaps someone else’s might.  Let’s check out Friends for Fullerton’s Future!

tonyserra on June 29, 2011

I heard on KNX that the OCDA announced BREA PD detective (and UNION BOSS) Shawn Neel was aquitted for his MURDER of an unarmed young man EXACTLY a year ago.

Funny how the LACDA turns these investigations (OIS) in thirty days.

Even Funnier how Neels long time BEST FRIEND Billy HUTCHINS retired as chief three months ago.

Yikes.  “UNION BOSS” and “MURDER of an unarmed young man”!  FFFF does not FFFF around!

Just out of curiosity, I wonder if Orange Juice Blog itself has ever run anything on Neel?  Well, the link turns up this Tony Bushala story linked to FFFF, about what is the easiest way to get OC’s DA to whitewash an investigation (in this case the sexual misconduct one against Officer Al Rincon), but that doesn’t seem to mention Neel … wait, there it is, down in the sole comment:

The easiset way is to join the local POA, those union guys get a way with murder! Literally!

Just ask Brea PD Detective Shawn Neel, who murdered Jullian collender in Yorba Linda. He used his POA connections to thwart the investigation.

Unions!  Murder! Who wrote this comment, anyway?

kenlaysnotdead Posted September 13, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Oh.  OH! Ohhh….   Now, don’t panic, I am sure that there must be a more benign explanation for KLND’s pushing me to do a story because it casts a bad light onto a police detective with whom he seems to have a substantial beef — one that involves both objection to “murder” and what might seem like an incongruous emphasis of his position with the police union — then to think that this was just a way to settle a score.  I would like someone to send it to me immediately, because I didn’t find this comment until I had written the whole rest of the story and now I’m damned if I’m not going to publish it anyway.
(But — seriously, Dear Readers — when any of you ask me to write a story on something local, in the future could you please give me a head’s up if you’ve done something like publicly accuse one of the principal figures in the story of murder?  That’s the sort of thing I’d like to know before I do this sort of quasi-journalism.  (Yes, this is the point where I decided to add KLND’s specific appeals for me to cover this story into the introduction.  We report, you decide.))
But there’s a substantive story that I was covering somewhere up there, so let’s turn back to that.

What you can do!

If you’re interested in this story — by which I mean the substantive issue of with whom Yorba Linda should contract for its police services rather than how I came to write this story — you can attend the Yorba Linda City Council meeting on Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 6:30PM, which as this is published is just less than 24 hours away and make your opinion known.  Or you can watch events, take notes … even write a follow up story about what’s going on!  (Offer possibly not open to anyone with, um, “personal conflicts.”) You can publish it here!  We’ll credit you!  Because this is pretty much the last time I plan to discuss it unless something more interesting happens, so I suggest reading both the Register and the Pro-Brea PD site after that for more.

Now don’t anyone say that I’ve never written anything about Brea and Yorba Linda — or that I don’t know how to investigate a little when I want to.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 (in violation of Roberts Rules) when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Expelled from DPOC in October 2018 (in violation of Roberts Rules) for having endorsed Spitzer over Rackauckas -- which needed to be done. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. One of his daughters co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)