Eighty-seven percent of Anaheim police union members have approved a “no confidence” vote in Chief Raul Quezada, the union announced Thursday.
The rank-and-file police officers in the Anaheim Police Association want Quezada, the city’s first Latino chief, to retire, resign or be removed as chief, according to the union. The vote breakdown was 319 to 47, out of a total of 384 members, for a “no-confidence” declaration.
Union president Edgar Hampton said the vote was not taken “lightly,” and that the union tried to work on the issues with the chief, to no avail.
“Working for Chief Quezada has become near impossible and we are on a downward spiral.”
The union accused Quezada of “disregarding officer safety” by ordering his officers to remove “life-saving equipment” from their belts “because of its unappealing appearance.”
Union officials also said there has been a failure to hold some managers accountable and for “mishandling major incidents” such as a KKK rally that turned violent last year.
Quezada is also accused of “demonstrating favoritism” by doling out choice assignments to officers without going through “his own selection process.”
The chief was also accused of retaliating against some in management when they disagreed with him.
“Since he was appointed, Chief Quezada has continuously failed to unite his management,” the union said.
The union said Quezada has presided over “the most dysfunctional management team in the history of the department.”
Quezada said the union has been spooked by reforms he has implemented as a response to the riots in 2012 following two deadly police-involved shootings over a July weekend.
“In 2012, following days of unrest, we embarked on an ambitious-but- necessary journey to rebuild community confidence, especially among residents of Anaheim’s working-class neighborhoods,” Quezada said.
“We’ve worked hard to improve transparency and accountability, provide better and more compassionate service based on mutual respect and positively impact Anaheim’s at-risk youth,” Quezada said.
He said he was “proud” of rebuilding “community trust,” and he noted the city has not seen any increases in crime as other cities have following laws aimed at reducing prison overcrowding.
“Cultural change is difficult and often requires tough decisions and new ideas that can be scary to police employees accustomed to doing their jobs a certain way,” Quezada said.
He noted Anaheim was the first in the “region” to have officers wear cameras on their uniforms, which “has led to less use of force, enhanced training and key evidence in false claims against us.”
The evidence from the cameras have also been used `to hold officers accountable when mistakes inevitably occur, Quezada said.
“As you can imagine, our uptick in internal affairs investigations and disciplinary actions have not been embraced by the union,” the chief said.
Quezada speculated that “no confidence” votes may be “part of a new playbook some local police unions are using to attempt to strongarm cities and police agencies” to oust “reform-minded police chiefs.”
Mike Lyster, a spokesman for the city, said officials were aware of the union’s stance.
“Under the chief’s leadership, the city has made great strides in community policing, being the first in Orange County to implement body-worn cameras, and in upholding high standards for those we serve,” Lyster said. “Anaheim is fortunate to have a police department that is a leader in public safety, and we look forward to addressing concerns as we continue to move the department and the city forward.”
–City News Service
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