Another Eventful Night at the Fullerton City Council Meeting. By Barry Levinson
It seems that the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights (POBOR) is precluding an honest discussion about the OIR report leaked last summer. For the fourth council meeting in a row, I tried to get some elected or appointed city official to speak on the leaked OIR report entitled the “Internal Affairs Investigative Report Into the In-custody Death of Kelly Thomas” by Michael Gennaco and Stephen Walsh dated April 2012.
The conclusions of this report issued in April 2012 well over a year before the start of the criminal trial of Ramos and Cincinelli, contradicts the sworn testimony of Fullerton Police Department Training Officer, Corporal Stephen Rubio and Fullerton Police Department Sergeant Kevin Craig. They both testified that they saw no major violations of the Fullerton Police Department Policy and Procedure Manual during the brutal beating death of Kelly Thomas and the subsequent police response to his injuries.
I guess serious unexplained conflicts between the testimony of two FPD officers and Mr. Gennaco’s findings, which were supposed to be the basis for Police Chief Danny Hughes to reform his department, as far as we know will not be dealt with by our current Police Chief, Dan Hughes.
This information has been out in the public since this summer and then I have brought this directly to the last four City Council meetings. Police Chief Dan Hughes I believe was the recipient of this report way back in April 2012, three and one-half years ago. Yet Police Chief Hughes apparently refuses to address the fact that his training officer and supervisor of the year in 2013
testified that as far as the Fullerton Police Department policies and procedures, Ramos and Cincinelli did no wrong the night of July 5, 2011.
It should not have to be my job or any other activist citizen’s job to ensure that we have a city run based on doing what is best for the residents of Fullerton. Yet time and time again, if not for Joe Imbriano, myself and a very few others, the sordid facts in so many instances would have remained buried just like Kelly Thomas.
I strongly believe that POBAR is interfering with city government’s fiduciary responsibility to the people of Fullerton. Gennaco and Walsh conclude that the key officers involved in the savage beating death of Kelly Thomas the night of July 5, 2011 did in fact break numerous FPD Policies and Procedures that night.
Before I get into any more specifics, I need to explain what is meant by fiduciary responsibility. The Webster’s definition of fiduciary is as follows: Of, or relating to, or involving a confidence or trust, i.e. one that holds a fiduciary relation or acts in a fiduciary capacity. Based on that definition what responsibilities does a city council member, a city manager or a police chief have to the people of Fullerton as their elected and appointed representatives? It means that those individuals have a duty to protect the city of Fullerton from any harm whether it is a financial or safety or health related danger. Therefore anything that is related to the city of Fullerton with regard to all those broad issues, they have a fiduciary obligation to mitigate those dangers for the people living and working within our city borders. But the so-called protections afforded all law enforcement officers both good and bad, supercede the people’s right to know and the people’s right to be safe from the very people they pay to serve and protect.
So with that discussion of a fiduciary relationship, our city leaders have to the city and its citizens let’s continue with the discussion concerning the leaked Gennaco report.
The council’s coerced silence due to POBAR in my opinion aids and abets the efforts of those dismissed/fired officers in their claims that they were wrongly terminated. The expert opinion of the OIR Group was that many FPD Policies and Procedures were in fact not followed. Therefore it follows that those officers have no legal justification to either get their jobs back or instead receive millions of dollars in settlement money so that they can live out the rest of their lives like kings for brutally beating to death an innocent man. The words, innocent man, are not mine, but the words of Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes. The unfair and biased protections afforded by POBOR places Fullerton residents at additional risk to either pay those correctly dismissed/fired officers huge amounts of settlement money or worse put them back on the streets of Fullerton with all the power and control of any law enforcement officer. Question: Could that have been the plan of the FPD all along? That Ramos, Cincinelli, and Wolfe quietly leave their jobs leaving any possible FPD skeletons buried with the assurance that the City of Fullerton would take care of them in the end. It is just a theory on my part, but one that makes a whole lot of sense. After all it is a matter of record that numerous FPD officers have abused the badge and disgraced this city.
But there is another risk that this silence also aids and abets. You cannot expect to correct past mistakes when there is no acknowledgement or even agreement by Training Officer Rubio and Sergeant Craig that FPD polices and procedures were actually broken numerous times on the night of July 5, 2011. Does anyone have an issue with a police chief that has two officers still in positions of power, one a supervisor and one a trainer, that have suffered no known negative consequences for their sworn testimony that Ramos and Cincinelli broke no FPD procedures and/or policies? Here is a question that Police Chief Hughes will never answer. Why Police Chief Dan Hughes did you get rid of Ramos, Cincinelli and Wolfe and promise the Fullerton pubic that you would never rehire them, if according to your 2013 Supervisor of the Year, Craig and your Training Officer Rubio, they followed FPD policies and procedures the night of July 5, 2011. Either they broke the rules and deserved to be fired or they did not and deserve to be rehired. Chief Hughes if you say you will never rehire those officers they must have by definition have broken some of the FPD rules as claimed by the OIR report. Therefore, you must believe that the testimony of Rubio and Craig was in part erroneous? We the people of Fullerton deserve answers from the police chief who promised his tenure would be based on open and transparent communication from the FPD to the public.
In summary, was the 2013 FPD Supervisor of the Year and the FPD’s Training Officer given what appears to be a complete pass by our police chief for their comments under oath. The OIR Group gave example after example after example to completely refute the officers testimony that Ramos and Cincinelli basically followed the Fullerton Police Department polices and procedures on the night of July 5, 2011. This lack of action by our police chief I believe sends a bad message to the members of the FPD. What message does it send to the members of the Fullerton public? The message it quite loud and clear and it states the following: That there is much unfinished business within the FPD before any objective observer can claim all is now well with this department. A police department still under this cloud of suspicion will never have the trust and respect necessary for any law enforcement agency to be an effective arm of our city government.
I report, you decide.