Why Do We Need A Police Oversight Commission Again?

It’s Anaheim Insider time again. Here’s what I have  for you:

DA’s Report Shows Civilian Oversight Board Unnecessary
It’s crystal clear from yesterday’s very thorough report by the Orange County District Attorney that Joel Acevedo, a gang member fleeing the police, tried to shoot Anaheim police officer Kelly Phillips, who returned fire and killed Acevedo (police officers are generally much better shots than gang members).

The OCDA’s report on the July 22 shooting comes two months after its investigators also rules the July 21 shooting of Manuel Diaz justified.

The OCDA team investigating the Acevedo shooting interviewed 64 witnesses, reviewed ballistics, DNA evidence, “APD reports,  audio recordings and dispatch and radio recordings; Orange County Crime Laboratory reports including toxicology, forensic alcohol examination, latent print, officer processing and firearms examination reports, crime scene investigation photographs; autopsy photographs, the forensic pathology report related to Acevedo; criminal history records related to Acevedo including prior criminal history records and prior incident reports; the personnel records of Officer Phillips; and other relevant reports and materials including audio recordings of the conducted neighborhood canvass.”

So what exactly would a civilian police oversight board add to this process? What missing investigative, scientific or legal expertise is missing that a civilian oversight board would provide? If its supporters have a real answer, I’d like to hear it.

“More oversight is always a good thing” is not a sufficient rationale. It’s not even true.

The truth is Mayor Tait’s proposed civilian oversight board is purely a sop to a few vocal activists who have attached themselves to the mayor (and vice-versa).

Tait Conflict-of-Interest On Stadium Resolved…or Not?
This small item ran in last week’s Anaheim Bulletin:

Tom Tait will join stadium discussions

One key player so far has stayed out of Angel Stadium negotiations – Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait.

But he’s planning to join discussions this month.

Tait had to declare a conflict of interest and skip negotiations because his company owned two industrial buildings located within 500 feet of the stadium. The buildings, which were purchased before he was elected mayor in 2010, were transferred to his adult children last year.

“In the interest of extreme caution, I waited a year before I started participating in the stadium negotiations,” Tait said.

The mayor’s initial response to this issue was to maintain that he had no conflict, and then later declared that he had a conflict. The transfer of the buildings to his adult children raises another question: who is paying the taxes on it? Those properties are valued at around $2 million. Do the mayor’s children have the money to pay the tax bill on that?

“Let The People Vote!”…On Some Things, Some of the Time

Mayor Tait’s mantra and fall-back argument throughout the battle over council districts has been “Let the people vote.” Whenever the issue comes up at council meetings, he always bring it back to “just let the people vote.”

As the Insider has previously noted, the unspoken corollary is that rule only applies to proposals the mayor supports, such as single-member council districts.

At the June 11 meeting, the mayor said since the Citizens Advisory Committee unanimously supported putting single-member districts on the ballot, then the City Council should put it on the ballot. He said over and over and over that the CAC said we should “ask the people,” whether or not we support single-member districts.

The CAC also unanimously recommended a separate initiative asking voters if they wanted to keep the at-large system (which Mayor Tait opposes). The mayor totally ignored that recommendation and made no effort to heed the CAC and “let the people vote” on it.

When his colleagues wanted to place on the ballot a hybrid system of electing councilmembers at-large from residency-based districts, “let the people vote” went out the window and Mayor Tait voted against “letting the people vote” on a measure he opposed.

This needs to be remembered next time Mayor Tait starts talking about how important it is to “ask the people” and to “let the people vote.”

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  1. Sick of politics


  2. I would like to see the formation of a gang banger oversight commission.

  3. Sick of Politics

    Good idea.

  4. I’ve personally witnessed 4 leadership generations of the Anaheim PD (Gaston-Quezada) violate section 18USC241 of the United States criminal code. The Orange County DA is not providing the proper oversight.

    An independent review board with subpoena authority is required here. One where the members are not part of the law enforcement/DA/Superior Court club. Ethics is required now .

    • “One where the members are not part of the law enforcement/DA/Superior Court club. Ethics is required now.”

      You mean one where the members know nothing about fighting crime or have any experience whatsoever in the field? Maybe we should hire automobile mechanics to oversee a surgeon’s work too? Great idea! NOT!!!

      Lay persons lack understanding of police policies and operating conditions. In other words, they’re not qualified unless they’ve done the job themselves. Even then, hiring former LEO’s would present multiple problems. Police work involves continuously changing tactics, equipment, laws, policies, etc., etc…

      Suggesting that we train civilians who will oversee police work is just plain ludicrous. It’s like suggesting that a student is qualified to evaluate a practitioner.

      • US police officers are public servants and the public has the right to render judgment on their work product. The notion that only cops can pass judgement over other cops is self-serving and being debunked every day via videotape.

        Besides, based on your logic the US system of justice would be voided – on average a “jury of your peers” doesn’t mean a jury of forensics experts. So a “jury of your peers” is supposed to suffice for the average person but not for a police officer? Who are you people – gifts to humanity? No offense, but determining the justifiabilty of a cop beating is not equivalent in difficulty to rendering judgement on proper brain surgery technique.

        • German, what do you think about forming a gang banger review committee?!

          • Having been victimized by your cops and gang bangers at the request of your cops, I would love to be the Chairman of both oversight committees. Maybe then, the majority of good and decent people of Anaheim/Garden Grove could live in peace.

        • “So a “jury of your peers” is supposed to suffice for the average person but not for a police officer?”

          If a construction worker kills someone, it’s not important for a “jury of his/her peers” to be qualified in construction to judge them in order for them to receive a fair trial, as it has nothing to do with their job.

          If an officer kills someone in the line of duty, it would be very important for a “jury of his/her peers” to be qualified and experienced in law enforcement to judge them in order for them to receive a fair trial, as it has everything to do with their job.

          Sometimes, in order for them to save their own life, or the life of an innocent, it’s required for an officer to take a life. Some officers – such as gang units – need to make this decision almost daily. That’s the difference. Most jobs don’t require the taking of a life. And I assure you, most officers take it very seriously when they are forced to use deadly force.

          A lay person never experiences the fear that an officer experiences when their life is threatened because the lay person has never been in that situation, or even in a similar situation.

          I think you know and understand all this already. You’re just too stubborn to admit you’re wrong and want to see if anyone can explain it clearly to you; stirring the pot, so to speak. Either that, or you have a very deep hatred for the police and/or authority figures. Or you’re just plain ignorant – which I seriously doubt.

          Either way, I’m done trying to explain it to you. Either you agree or you don’t. Or you simply don’t want to. Doesn’t matter to me.

  5. Let me see if I got this straight. We have been saying for years that the District Attorney’s office does an insufficient job of investigating these deaths, so I am not sure how yet another inadequate District Attorney’s report is supposed to convince me the DA is adequate oversight. Indeed, I suspect if Joey Acevedo had not been shot, and instead was brought up on criminal charges, he would have been convicted of joyriding in a stolen vehicle, (for which the driver was sentenced to a year in prison, not death) but is there enough evidence to have convicted him of firing that gun? His DNA was on it, that proves it was in his hand or placed there. But there is no reference to gunpowder residue, a test one assumes would be conducted to establish he had in fact FIRED the gun. Can you convict a man of firing a gun without that residue test, based on the testimony of one witness who admits it was so dark all they say was a shadow? I am not a lawyer, I really want to know. But the in the meantime, there is nothing about the swiss cheese report turned in by the District Attorney that makes me even the tiniest bit more confident that he is doing a good job and that we do not need additional investigation. Sorry.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Who are the “we” who have been saying that “for years”?

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Hhmm. Lots of physical evidence supporting what the APD said happened. No evidence supporting the “execution” claims.

      Yep, Cynthia. That’s a real Swiss cheese report.

  6. http://articles.latimes.com/1997-04-14/news/mn-48691_1_anaheim-police-department/2 I can find demands for additional oversight going back to the 1990s when an earlier generation of activists said, “I think things can be resolved if we get some outside people in to oversee the police.”

    To which the then-Chief responded with the same argument we hear now-

    “If all the voting citizens of Anaheim want civilian review, fine, but I think you have to look at it and say, you already have a civilian police review board in the city, and it’s the City Council,” Gaston said. “If any group in the city feels the Police Department is doing something wrong, we are already accountable to city leaders.”

    The department is battling more than its present troubles. It also lives with the lasting memory of its past.

    Many critics of the department first became incensed at police after the 1978 riot in Little People’s Park. The melee in downtown Anaheim was touched off when police, responding to reports of gunshots, confronted an angry crowd pelting them with stones. Police allegedly beat youths and sprayed picnickers with tear gas.

    The department was shaken for years by the investigations that grew out of the disturbance, and by findings by an Orange County grand jury that police used excessive force in two cases during that incident.

    The department, Anaheim officers contend, is a different institution today than it was two decades ago. Few on the force now were involved in quelling the melee in Little People’s Park. The police chief in office then is long gone.” That was written decades ago, what has changed?At least then Gaston brought up the possibility of letting citizens vote for whether we wanted oversight (it didn’t happen) today we are not even allowed to vote on how we will be governed in the future, much less whether someone other than the officials elected with buckets of special interest Police union money will oversee the case when we are shot at.

    Anaheim’s problems with a hyper aggressive militarized gang unit are nothing new, we see reports back to the 70s, through the 80s and 90s, and then taking off as the Gang Unit became their own standing army in an occupied enemy territory, where all residents are suspect, based upon their “choice” to live in a bad part of town, as though the economic need to live in substandard housing makes them culpable for the crime that surrounds them.

    The violence against civilians has not changed, it has simply become better funded through DHS now paying for their toys, and the shootings have become socially acceptable by dehumanizing the dead by labeling them as violent gang members. who deserved what they got. Innocent until proven guilty? Well how about innocent until shot and your reputation is trashed postmortem, when you are not around to defend yourself? I didn’t know Joey Acevedo, and I waited for the DA’s report, as requested. We have the cop’s word that Joey was a gang member, but unlike earlier reports, the DA fails to include the long, sordid list of Joey’s conviction records, establishing him as a monster who shoots babies for fun. Indeed, we have no way of knowing if Joey was ever convicted of a crime and whether or not any of those crimes were gang related, and I would like to know that before I dismiss his life as “disposable” by way of a label.

    I see physical evidence that Joey Acevedo was joy riding with friends in a vehicle common sense would have told him was stolen because his friends could not afford it. I see no evidence that Joey himself stole the car, and from supposition I would believe no macho red blooded car thief would have a girl drive for him. I see someone guilty of youthful stupidity, not car theft, and even the driver was not convicted of car theft, caught red handed. Physical evidence of Joey Acevedo being a cold blooded (attempted) cop killer is limited to his DNA on the gun, which proves it was in his hand, not that he fired it, and I would like to know without question that he did fire it. Powder residue testing would have proven that. Where are those tests? Right now I see nothing in the way of physical evidence that separates “shot at cops” from “gun planted on a kid who was stupid” ….what physical evidence do you present, Matt?

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