Archives for category: Fullerton Police Department

Fullerton Police Chief (for the moment) David Hendricks

Matthew Leslie

UPDATE: The Special Meeting is NOT about Chief Hendricks. It’s about someone connected to the Kelly Thomas case, presumably the since fired FPD officer Jay Cicinelli, who wants his job back, since our incompetent District Attorney, Tony Ruckaukus, couldn’t get him convicted for helping to beat the poor homeless man brain dead.

The more direct reference to the subject of the Closed Session meeting can be found in City Manager Ken Domer’s weekly report at this link:

https://www.cityoffullerton.com/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=26046

Why the Closed Session Agenda itself does not include this single explanatory line is unclear.

The Fullerton City will meet in closed session on Thursday Nov. 1, 4:00 p.m. to consider a single agenda item:

PUBLIC EMPLOYEE DISCIPLINE / DISMISSAL / RELEASE Per Government Code Section 54957.1(a)(5)

https://fullerton.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=A&ID=645546&GUID=F57ECBE9-141E-4D01-B222-E1132D464F1B

I believe the Council only officially hires two positions, the City Manager and Chief of Police, and only one of those people has been on leave for two months pending a criminal investigation. Chief David Hendricks, who seemed to have been doing some beneficial housecleaning at the Fullerton Police Departmental during his seven month tenure, appears to himself be headed for the door.

The Chief has been on paid leave while under investigation for a reported off-duty physical altercation with emergency medical personnel called to treat his wife during an August 24 concert in Irvine.

The Council has tried hiring a police Chief from within the ranks and from outside of the city for its last two appointments. Our most recent former Chief Dan Hughes seems to have let the former City Manger off the hook for a drunken car accident, and now it looks like Chief Hendricks is going to be fired for an off-duty fight.

Here’s a suggestion: form a Civilian Police Commission and let them lead the search for a new Chief of Police this time around.

Matthew Leslie

Have you ever heard of Captain Bob Dunn of the Fullerton Police Department? You might want to get to know him, because right now he is the Acting Chief of the FDP. It is being widely reported by news outlets that Friday night Fullerton Police Chief David Hendricks and FPD Captain Thomas Oliveras were involved in an altercation with Emergency Medical personnel attempting to treat the Chief’s wife who was suffering some sort of medical emergency while attending a concert in Irvine. No charges have yet been filed, but Chief Hendricks and Captain Oliveras have both been placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is being investigated. The story was evidently leaked Sunday via a screenshot of a message sent by Fullerton’s City Manager Ken Domer to members of the FPD. It is not known who else was meant to receive the announcement (certainly not the general public, at that point).

The City Manager’s office inexplicably waited until Tuesday morning to finally issue a press release, after news reports were already circulating on radio, television, and on the internet, giving the unfortunate impression that Mr. Domer was forced to acknowledge a story that was much more than just a personnel issue only after is was already in the public sphere. The press release itself is almost curt it its brevity, providing no details about the incident. We are informed that “…the City is hiring an external investigator to conduct an administrative review.” A standing Police Commission in Fullerton could do the same thing, if we weren’t blocked from having one by a bare majority of three members of the Fullerton City Council who are backed by Fullerton’s police union.

The other information outlet that should have alerted the public to the fact that the Chief of Police had been sidelined due to possibly violent behavior is the Fullerton Police Department’s own Public Information Officer, whose Twitter feed has been utterly silent about it, even now. Take a look at the most recent tweets from the account below:

FPDPIO Twitter Feed August 2018

Happy National Dog Day! Also, if the Chief of Police has been put on leave, we don’t know a thing about it.

Pedestrian Safety Enforcement, a congratulations to a new officer, and National Dog Day–all three tweets sent after their own Chief was kicked out of a major concert venue and placed on leave. Isn’t the Public Information Officer supposed to supply information to the public? Are we paying the PIO to send us pictures of dogs?

Dan-Hughes-at-Podium

Chief Dan Hughes, blocking oversight of our department, with the consent of a majority of our own city council.

Fullerton’s latest Chief of Police Dan Hughes officially left his post on Thursday afternoon, sent off in a hail of glory by officers of the force and other well-wishers gathered in front of the police station. He will become Vice President of Security for the Disney Resort, a job well suited to a man paid to keep the public in the dark about the activities of his department.*

Unabashedly lauded by admirers, one of whom went to the extreme of posting professional signs around town urging his permanent hiring by the council four years ago, Chief Hughes nonetheless left many unhappy with his adamant refusal to accept reasonable public oversight of his department in the aftermath of the horrific beating of homeless man Kelly Thomas by officers of the force. His decision to retain three of the six officers involved did not seem consistent with perceived efforts to bring greater accountability to the troubled department.

Supporters of Dan Hughes like to point out that he addressed most of the recommendations made in the report commissioned by Michael Gennaco’s Office of Independent Review (OIR), who are also now under contract with the city to periodically review the FPD’s reports. However, Dan Hughes and the Fullerton City Council never really addressed the final, and arguably most important, recommendation by the OIR, to establish credible independent oversight of the department. Instead of an appointed Civilian Police Commission to oversee our own police department, we got a “Chief’s Advisory Council,” hand-picked by Chief Hughes himself. No notices, agendas, or minutes of their meetings have ever been made available to the public. Reports of the meetings only come in the form of cheerleading statements made by its members during the public comment periods of city council meetings. Hardly the sort of oversight that would have reviewed the case of a Fullerton Police Detective accused of threatening a crime victim and coercing sex from her that resulted in a $ 550,000.00 out of court settlement on the Chief’s watch.

The lack of formal Police Commission with the critical power to conduct its own investigations can be sharply felt now in the aftermath of City Manager Joe Felz’s car accident last week that allowed him to walk away after a phone call was placed to the outgoing Chief Dan Hughes. The City Council will meet in closed session on Tuesday, November 15, to discuss the situation as a personnel matter pertaining to Mr. Felz, but we have no way at all of knowing what happened in the early morning hours of November 9. The city’s contract with OIR does not cover such investigations, leaving no other independent body to provide a report where an otherwise inherent conflict of interest exists between the City Manager’s office and the appointment of an interim Police Chief to temporarily replace Dan Hughes. (FPD Captain John Siko has been named  to the position).

The lack of transparency is in keeping with the decision by Chief Hughes to sidestep the improved communication with the pubic recommended by the Gennaco Report. Instead, we were treated to occasional open houses at police headquarters and a hack public relations firm paid with our tax dollars to regurgitate positive stories about the FPD back to us in a complicit OC Register and on a website called Behind the Badge.

The election of a new member to the Fullerton City Council prior to the hiring of a permanent Chief of Police offers a fortuitous opportunity to add actual police oversight, to be discussed in a future story.

 

*His hiring by Curt Pringle uber-client Disney, while serving under one of Pringle & Associates’ Vice Presidents, Fullerton Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald, might give one pause to reflect.

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