Here’s a re-post of a story that Travis did in March 2010 on now AWOL Chief Sellers. It seems that Sellers was pretty good at slingin’ the ol’community policing lingo and didn’t seem like the sort of guy that would cultivate a corrupt, out of control goon squad.
What neither Travis nor any of us knew was that Sellers was doing very little to impress this philosophy onto the crew of thugs, misfits, whackjobs, and pickpockets he inherited from Pat McPension. Unfortunately for us, Chief McPension had cultivated quite a nasty little garden over his 17 year command.
But let’s not shed any misplaced tears for Sellers. Even tho’ McPension left him a considerable criminal element, he appears to have done nothing to weed out the noxious blooms in the FPD flower bed during his abortive, two-year stint as Chief.
– Joe Sipowicz
Last week Sharon Quirk-Silva invited me to join her public chat with Fullerton Police Chief Michael Sellers at the Fullerton Museum Center. Chief Sellers answered a variety of questions from Fullerton’s usual cluster of civic participants. Some were there to ask legitimate questions, while others used the open Q&A format to primarily talk about themselves under the guise of asking a question (the excessive use of the perpendicular pronoun reveals the intentions of the self-important).
The most vacuous question of the night came from school board candidate Aaruni Thakur, who was interested in the number of Baker to Vegas trophies displayed in the lobby of the police department. While some of us at FFFF would never question the opportunity to make a mockery of the ‘ol dog and pony show, it struck me as a missed opportunity for the untested school board candidate who should have been impressing us with his civic insight.
So on to Chief Sellers. He gave most of the answers that one would expect, citing crime statistics elaborating on existing department policies. Nothing surprising or terribly revealing.
But here’s what struck me: I listened to the Chief of Police for an hour and a half, and not once did I catch a hint of the authoritarianism that tends to seep out of career law enforcement bureaucrats. He never implied that he “knew what’s best for the people”. His responses to controversial questions on marijuana dispensaries and homeless disturbances were telling – Sellers said he can only enforce the laws that the People enact, regardless of his personal feelings on the issues.
Sellers came across as genuinely amiable to policing methods that seek to reduce crime through community interaction, rather than relying purely on brute-force suppression and mindless “law and order” approaches that alienate law enforcement agencies from the people whom they are supposed to serve. Officers are encouraged to build relationships and find long-term solutions to crime problems, rather than just cycle junkies and gang bangers through our failing prison system.
I left feeling surprisingly satisfied with the police chief appointment that our city council made last year. Hopefully Sellers turns out to be “tough on crime” without being tough on the rest of us.