Police Review Commission proposals hit the fan in both Anaheim and Fullerton tonight!

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Fullerton’s Kelly Thomas and Anaheim’s Caesar Cruz with his ma Theresa Smith; Kelly and Caesar were two  of the more famous police victims of recent years.

ANAHEIM, FULLERTON, what do they have in common?

CORRECT, if you said they’ve regularly made not only national but international news with the brutality of their police forces.

Fullerton, for those cops beating hapless homeless Kelly Thomas to death last July, and that being only the head of the zit – the Fullerton Friends blog has long documented violence and sexual improprieties done with impunity by the city’s cops.

Anaheim, for the uncanny number of young Latino men – suspected of gang activity – shot in the back of the head while fleeing.

Well, what else do those two towns have in common?  Tonight?  They are both considering proposals for Citizens’ Oversight Committees over the police force, something that no other Orange County town has managed to pull off.


This announcement comes from good friend of the blog Matt Leslie, who’s been working on this project for a year or so with his partner Jane Rands:

Citizen Committee will present proposed ordinance establishing Civilian Oversight of the Fullerton Police Department to City Council February 19.

Police Oversight Proposal Committee (POPC) formed in aftermath of beating death of Kelly Thomas, lawsuits against Fullerton Police Dept.

On February 19, at the request of Mayor Bruce Whitaker, the Fullerton City Council will hear a proposal by The Police Oversight Proposal Committee (POPC), a grassroots group of citizens who came together in the aftermath of the Kelly Thomas killing to formulate a plan for police oversight. POPC will present an ordinance adopting a formal Police Commission in Fullerton. This ordinance would require that this Police Commission, independent of the Fullerton Police Department, would have access to complaints against officers, the power to subpoena testimony and documents, and the authority to recommend disciplinary actions and follow up on implementation as essential components of an effective oversight board. No members of law enforcement or city staff would be eligible to serve on the commission.

The ordinance presented for consideration by the City Council is the result of over eighteen months of research and discussion, and reflects the committee’s best recommendation for effective, lasting, and constructive civilian oversight of the Fullerton Police Department. It is offered as a tool to prevent costly future lawsuits filed against the city over actions by officers of the FPD, as well as a liaison between the department and the public it is sworn to serve.

The POPC presentation is 6th on the city council’s agenda. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.

The proposed ordinance follows:

Section ___: Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission

(a) The City Council, by ordinance, shall establish a Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission consisting of not less than five (5) nor more than nine (9) members appointed by the City Council. Members of the Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission shall serve without compensation for terms not to exceed two years as established by ordinance, and members shall be appointed for not more than three consecutive full terms. Fullerton City employees and persons employed as peace officers or custodial officers in Fullerton or any other jurisdiction shall not be eligible to be members of the Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission.

(b) Members of the Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission shall serve at the pleasure of the City Council. At large appointments may be removed at any time by a majority vote of the City Council. Direct appointments may be removed at the discretion of the appointing City

(c) Vacancies on the Citizens Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission shall be filled for the balance of the unexpired term in the same manner as the position was originally filled.

(d) The Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission shall have the power to subpoena and require attendance of witnesses and the production of books and papers pertinent to its investigations and to administer oaths.

Section ___: Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission

(e) The Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission may appoint in accordance with its established procedures such personnel as may be authorized by the City Council. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Charter, any authorized executive director and investigators of the Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission shall be in the classified or the unclassified service as determined, by ordinance, by the City Council.

(f) The City Council, by ordinance, shall establish the duties of the Civilian Law Enforcement
Oversight Commission and its duties shall include but are not limited to the following:

(1) Receive, review and investigate citizens complaints which charge peace officers employed by the Police Department with (A) use of excessive force, (B) discrimination or sexual harassment in respect to members of the public, (C) the improper discharge of firearms, (D) illegal search or
seizure, (E) false arrest, (f) false reporting, (G) criminal conduct or (H) misconduct. All action complaints shall be in writing and the truth thereof shall be attested under penalty of perjury. “Misconduct” is defined to mean and include any alleged improper or illegal acts, omissions or
decisions directly affecting the person or property of a specific citizen by reason of:

1. An alleged violation of any general, standing or special orders or guidelines of the Police Department; or
2. An alleged violation of any state or federal law; or
3. Any act otherwise evidencing improper or unbecoming conduct by a peace officer employed by the Police Department.

Section ___: Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission

(2) Review and investigate the death of any individual arising out of or in connection with actions of peace officers employed by the Police Department, regardless of whether a citizen complaint regarding such death has been filed with the Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission.

(3) Prepare reports, including at least the Chief of Police as recipients, on the results of any investigations conducted by the Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission in respect to the activities of peace officers, including recommendations relating to the imposition of discipline and recommendations relating to any trends in regard to employees involved in citizen complaints.

(4) Prepare an annual report to the City Council, City Manager, City Attorney and Chief of Police summarizing the activities and recommendations of the Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission, including the tracking and identification of trends in respect to all complaints received and investigated during the reporting period.

(5) Notify in writing any citizens having filed a complaint with the Citizens Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission of the disposition of his or her complaint. City Manager and City Attorney shall also receive appropriate notification of the disposition of citizen complaints.

(6) Review and make recommendations on policies and procedures of the Police Department.

Section ___: Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission

(7) Establish necessary rules and regulations for the conduct of its business, subject to approval of the City Council.
(8) Perform such other duties as the City Council, by ordinance, may assign to the Civilian Law #nforcement Oversight Commission.
(g) The Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission shall have the same standing as presently held by officers of the Police Department to appeal a decision of the Chief of Police in imposition or non-imposition of discipline in relation to an open investigation performed by the
Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission.


Fullerton City Hall is located at 303 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, CA 92832. Free parking is available on site.

For more information email fullertonpopc@me.com
The Police Oversight Proposal Committee (POPC), www.facebook.com/POPC2012


Mayor Tait walking another gauntlet:   Increasingly one of the more brave, principled, and ISOLATED politicians in Orange County.

Meanwhile in the county’s largest town, the good Mayor Tom Tait, the main driving force behind creating a civilian review commission there, is being savaged by the Anaheim Police Association as a “friend to gangs” and an “enemy of law enforcement” …. for simply wanting some citizen oversight over a force that’s undeniably gone berserk.

At this point nothing has happened much but his unanimously-approved request to the city manager to study civilian review commissions in other cities and report back on models that might be appropriate for Anaheim.  BUT, TODAY…

1)  Robocalls have gone out savaging the Mayor on this issue.  See Jason’s scoop here:

A series of robo calls went out this morning urging residents to oppose Mayor Tom Tait’s citizen oversight board. Former city council candidate Brian Chuchua stated that the message claimed Mayor Tait was pro-gangs and anti-law enforcement. Which we all know is the furthest from the truth.

Please contact the Anaheim CIty Council today to express your support for an oversight board.

Click here to send the Anaheim City Council an email now.

Mayor Tom Taitsray@anaheim.net

Mayor Pro Tem Gail Eastmangeastman@anaheim.net

Council Member Kris Murray: kmurray@anaheim.net

Council Member Jordan Brandman: amezzacappa@anaheim.net

Council Member Lucile Kring: sray@anaheim.net

City Manager Bob Wingenroth: citymanager@anaheim.net

AND #2:  As the mercenary Matt Cunningham reports:

The Anaheim Police Association blasted out this e-mail this morning, asking for recipients to e-mail the Anaheim City Council to express their opposition to Mayor Tom Tait’s proposal for a citizens police oversight commission:

Support Your Anaheim Police!

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait and his supporters are attempting to weaken our police force by implementing policies and police review procedures that could jeopardize the safety of Anaheim’s families. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the Office of Independent Review already perform independent and objective reviews of officer-involved incidents.

Don’t let the Mayor’s hand-picked cronies and City politics get in the way of our public safety. As citizens of Anaheim, it’s time to take a stand for safer streets, schools and homes.


Don’t let Tom Tait take away our strong police force.

And sure enough,on the mercenary blog of Matt Cunnighham, his bold anonymous commenters pile on, calling the Mayor a gang sympathizer and hater of law enforcement.  (Matt doesn’t dare to do that, having long had a friendship with Tait, but he obviously revels in creating a place where anonymous people can do it.)

Let’s watch, now, the Mayor’s absolutely beautiful State of the City speech, where he addresses precisely these (and other) issues, and see where he’s really coming from.  The relevant stuff, under the now-familiar rubric of “two Anaheims,” starts around 24 minutes.  Check it out, see what a damn enemy of law enforcement the mayor is.  (When I get a chance I’ll type the important parts out.)

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.