A Little Bit About Chief Sellers


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.

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  1. #1 by Greg on March 4, 2010

    WISYWIG
    I knew Chief Sellers way back when he was a lowly captain in a neighboring city. He used to train the police recruits at Fullerton College’s police academy in first aid. He was a solid instructor that could kid around but knew when it was time to be serious.

    He really is an easy-going man who seeks to serve. He has served at A LOT of cities over the past 10 years, maybe 4 or 5, which made me a little nervous but he has left each city better than the way he found it. He is a big believer in the broken window concept and is very approachable. He genuinely likes to talk to folks and loves to help. I think that desire to help make things better is why he has been a chief for so many cities.

  2. #2 by admin on March 4, 2010

    Good post Travis!

  3. #3 by just a guy on March 4, 2010

    Thank God Mayes didnt get it

  4. #4 by Travis on March 4, 2010

    I wasn’t going to go there, but OK.

  5. #5 by the real just a guy on March 4, 2010

    This is not the real ‘just a guy’. But I do agree with you.

  6. #6 by Vern on March 4, 2010

    Good post Travis. One tiny little thing: You meant amenable, not amiable.

  7. #7 by Vern on March 4, 2010

    Hey I’m still going to spam! Well that’s OK, the last thing was just a message anyway. But I hope this gets fixed soon,

  8. #8 by van get it da artiste on March 4, 2010

    Police are frequently attacked by stereotypes. More fiction than fact has given rise to the belief that police officers are fascists who abuse the innocent public. Truly, the only defense I have against the bad guys is the thin, blue line that demarcates decency from depravity in our society.

  9. #9 by Johnny Donut on March 5, 2010

    You might want to add another line of defense. The thin blue line really only takes reports after the fact.

  10. #10 by van get it da artiste on March 5, 2010

    johnny, your comment reveals your IQ score resembles the center of a donut

  11. #11 by Johnny Donut on March 5, 2010

    Really? Because that’s exactly what a cop told me 3 days ago.

  12. #12 by van donuts on March 5, 2010

    Van, ask any veteran cop how many assaults in progress they have stopped in their entire career. I guarantee that the number will be less than 2.

  13. #13 by Voice of OC on October 10, 2011

  14. #14 by The Fullerton Savage on October 10, 2011

    In retrospect, the best question any of of could have asked Sellers was how would the FPD be any different under him than it was over McKinley. The next police chief should certainly be asked that question, and unless they have a pretty definite answer, should not be hired.

  15. #15 by fedupwithmorons on October 10, 2011

    Law enforcement is reactive,not proactive, meaning very seldom do they stop a crime from ever happening, they arrive to clean up the mess…..maybe.
    Be very leery of broken windows and community policing garbage, for it is nothing more than a plan of the communists wishing to rule the world. Look up Agenda 21, it should scare you to death!

  16. #16 by Jt on October 10, 2011

    Strongly agree!

    I know someone who worked in a non-LE capacity with Sellers and likes him quite a bit as a person. I think the gist of what Travis wrote is quite possibly accurate. It is entirely possible that either:
    1. Sellers tried to get the department culture to change but either didn’t try hard enough or didn’t have the authority (vs. union rules and POBOR) to make the needed changes.
    2. Sellers didn’t do nearly enough to change the departmental culture, but he didn’t do anything to encourage it.

    In either case, I think the fact that he inherited this culture from McKinley is obvious.

    The bottom line on whoever is hired as the next chief (assuming FPD isn’t disbanded entirely) would be that their highest priority is going to have to be to investigate and discipline (including fire) ever abusive or unprofessional officer they have. Which as we know, could be a large percentage.

    I would also like to see the following, though I have no idea what is possible under POBOR:
    1. Every use of force incident must be investigated, period. Investigations must be thorough and not whitewashes.
    2. New and very tough use of force policies.
    3. Any Police officers who commit felonies (IPad theft, sexual abuse, etc.) such be fired.
    4. Ban tasers. FPD clearly use them inappropriately.
    5. No arrest quotas. No rewards for arrests or citations.
    6. Civilian complaints against officers for excessive force or false arrest should result in officer being taken off the street until/unless cleared.

  17. #17 by Wrong Guy on October 10, 2011

    Then it would appear to me that Chief Sellers is a laid back, spineless jellyfish that leaves all the work and resposiblities to his captains and lieutenants who do whatever the hell they want.
    That’s too bad. If he were more experienced and confident, I’m sure he would have done more to prevent and stop the amount of corruption going on in FPD.
    The Kelly Thomas death beating was obvisously ‘way over his head’ and he probably did exactly what the city council and attorney told him to do. Say nothing, admit nothing, do nothing and if the heat is on, go out on medical leave and be the department’s ‘scape goat’.

  18. #18 by Wrong Guy on October 10, 2011

    MOst corrupt city officials like to have a puppet for ‘chief of police’, like Sellers.

  19. #19 by Citizen M on October 10, 2011

    Ok so this tool answerd a few questions, even a broken clock is right 2 times a day…sorry feel nothing warm and fuzzy about the cheef…good post tho.

  20. #20 by StormHarbor on October 10, 2011

    Chief Sellers gave at least one very brief interview after the Thomas story started catching fire. When asked about excessive tasing, he broke into a half-hearted, Stacey Koon style PCP rant for a few minutes, then ended the interview. After that, he thought it better to stay silent and hunker down until things blew over. The very day when self-serving McKinley went on CNN, Sellers called his doctor.

  21. #21 by Communist on October 10, 2011

    But we just want to be be free of running dog capitalist rats and bourgeois broken windows!

  22. #22 by Joe Sipowicz on October 10, 2011

    Don’t apologize for feeling the way you do. We invested some trust in this clown and it was misplaced. He did nothing to clean up his department and when the chips were down he:

    1. Left the killer kops on the street.
    2. Went on vacation.
    3. Took an indefinite stress leave that will ramp up his pension value.

    Don’t know about anybody else, but I want my money back.

  23. #23 by Joe Sipowicz on October 10, 2011

    Can you link to that interview. I never heard about anything other than his named mentioned in a Goodblimp press release.

  24. #24 by van get it da artiste on October 10, 2011

    “Sellers came across as genuinely amiable to policing methods that seek to reduce crime through community interaction,” Unfortunate for us, no one asked Sellers to define “interaction”. Too late, we know “interaction” meant, under McKinley and then Sellers, beat senseless first, then ask questions or just beat to death then fullerton police dept. can falsify their reports

  25. #25 by One for the books on October 10, 2011

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong…

    If the police chief stays out on medical leave for one year, he gets his retirement pension… TAX FREE??

  26. #26 by van get it da artiste on October 10, 2011

    this “Chief Sellers is a laid back, spineless jellyfish that leaves all the work and resposiblities to his captains and lieutenants who do whatever the hell they want.” is known as retirement mode

  27. #27 by 9c1copcar on October 10, 2011

    van get it da artiste on March 4, 2010

    Police are frequently attacked by stereotypes. More fiction than fact has given rise to the belief that police officers are fascists who abuse the innocent public. Truly, the only defense I have against the bad guys is the thin, blue line that demarcates decency from depravity in our society.

    ****Van,
    I do want to believe that our LEO’s are hard working and honest. That is what I thought years ago when I was young; now, I am not so sure. I do not want to paint all officers with the same broad-brush, and I won’t, however, more and more officers are getting pinched for illegal and indecent activities that ruin people’s lives. These illegal activities run the gamit from illegal searches, to excessive force, to rape, and beyond.
    It would be very unwise to believe that ALL LEO’s have a genuine desire to rid the world of crime, when they are the very ones who add to the numbers.
    Many a person, has sat willingly in an interrogation room to help on a case. only to be accused of the crime that is being investigated. They were called there, because they knew something about some individuals of interest in the case, or might have information that would help detectives. More times than not however, it is the innocent, who after hours of being badgered and brow-beat, are the very ones who write out a confession to the crime, when, in all actuality, they could not physically have been there. They even sign their own names to the confession!
    Detectives and D.A.’s know that some of these people who confess could never have committed said crimes, however, by convicting them, it clears their case loads, and looks good when election time rolls around.
    Whenever we were called in to the Lieutenant’s office for an inquiry, we were told by our union to get a rep to be present before any questions were answered. It helped us immensely, and I recommend the same thing if any officer wants to speak with you on the phone, or at the station regarding a case, always refer them to your attorney. Your attorney should always talk for you. NEVER be the nice guy and volunteer information, as that information you provided, could, and often does, come back to bite you.
    This is why cameras are so vitally important nowadays. They record physical, as well as voice interactions between law enforcement and the public.
    Van, I do want to call the police when I need to, and yes, I do believe there are many dedicated LEO’s out there to combat evil, however, it is the indecent ones who blur the image of the thin-blue-line.
    For more information regarding officer abuses and the such, google INJUSTICE EVERYWHERE. It will truly open up your eyes.
    RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED

  28. #28 by van get it da artiste on October 10, 2011

    now, I have to eat those donut holes in light of the kelly thomas murder and subsequent cover-up by our public officials and civil servants

  29. #29 by fedupwithmorons on October 10, 2011

    Thanks be to God that Sellers taught only first aid and cpr . Wondering though if Sellers used Resuci-Annie for practicing how to molest women? Hmmm, fodder for thought!

  30. #30 by fedupwithmorons on October 10, 2011

    Commie, you reap the benefits of capitalism so, why protest it? Don’t like capitalism, move to North Korea!

  31. #31 by fedupwithmorons on October 10, 2011

    Sellers allowed the inmates to run the asylum!

  32. #32 by fedupwithmorons on October 10, 2011

    Wrong, are you going to show up on Sat?

  33. #33 by fedupwithmorons on October 10, 2011

    Fullerton Pd is the reason the Peter Principle was written. Never read it? Do it, very enlightening!

  34. #34 by Wrong Guy on October 10, 2011

    fedupwithmorons :Wrong, are you going to show up on Sat?

    Yes, I’ll be there at around 11:00am. I believe I saw 9c1copcar mention that time in a previous post.
    Drove by around 11:30am this past SAturday and no one was on either corners. I will show up anyways with my chair even if no one else is there and stay for as long as I could.

  35. #35 by Anonymous on October 10, 2011

    Great advice 9c1!

  36. #36 by 9c1copcar on October 10, 2011

    One for the books on October 10, 2011

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong…

    If the police chief stays out on medical leave for one year, he gets his retirement pension… TAX FREE??

    **** One,
    The chief will have to be medically evaluated by an A.M.E., (Agreed Medical Examiner). This is a Dr. that both the city and dept. will agree upon to evaluate the chief. Usually, the percentage of disability will determine what amount of money they are paid, just for the claim, and then, once they are labeled P.S., (Permanent and Stationary), in that eval, that is the percentage of their pay that will be tax-free. As you know, Cicinelli lobbied for a 70% disability from the LAPD. This amount of PERMANENT disability, should have disqualified him from not only getting on another police dept., but also not meeting the minimun qualifications for P.O.S.T., (Peace Officer’s Standards And Training).
    Police work, in, and of itself, is labeled as arduous, which means very physical in work jargon. They not only must meet the physical agility tests, but also have TWO eyes to boot!
    So, to answer your question again, the chief will have from 50%-70% of his pay per month, in a non-taxable status. The percentage will be negotiated between the dr. and the city for the final numbers.

  37. #37 by merijoe on October 10, 2011

    yeah, again I continue to use as a philosophy in life, “the devil wont come knocking at your door in a red suit, a tail and horns”

  38. #38 by merijoe on October 10, 2011

    wonder if hes lawyered up yet, like so many in police do when they go off work on disability, if so, it will make it harder to come back to work

    He can only have AME if hes lawyered up, if not lawyered up QME (qualified medical examiner) or IME (independant medical examiner)

  39. #39 by My Username Rocks on October 10, 2011

    I find it pretty odd that no one was there last saturday, when the saturday before that there were a lot of people there at the very same hour.

    Did this have anything to do with Ron Thomas’ statement to take a break from protesting?

  40. #40 by Paul on October 10, 2011

    No he gets a percentage of the pension tax free depending on the severity of the disability.
    On another note, Sellers seems like someone who tried but maybe McKinleyites overwhelmed him. + If Sellers wanted to fire someone McKinley likes, Sellers had to look at bringing it to the City Council controlled by the 3 wise men, errrr 3 blind mice. If it is one of the McKinley favorites, the Sellers gets canned, which shortens his pension dollars.
    So I have a better feeling for what Sellers was facing.

  41. #41 by 9c1copcar on October 10, 2011

    M.U.R.,

    I believe that blog from Ron, set things in motion regarding staying home from the protest. FEDUP and I will be out there this Saturday.

  42. #42 by Peaches on October 10, 2011

    yeppers, like merijoe said :) and some of these “doctors” aren’t all that impartial, sadly (speaking from personal experience from an employer’s perspective)

    And sometimes it becomes a “business decision”…costs less to agree to the DR than to fight it. Not right, but it happens.

  43. #43 by vw type 53a on October 10, 2011

    Who cares what Ron says at this point? He doesn’t live here and it is ultimately the residents of Fullerton that need to force the issue. That is why I was discouraged last Saturday.

    I hope ALL OF YOU show up this Saturday, and I hope to see you there.

    …I’ll be there in my red car (see user name lol)

  44. #44 by vw type 53a on October 10, 2011

    P.S. Just to clarify, do you guys really want to make it 11:00? I was thinking (and still am) 9-noon.

    Let’s iron that out so that no one is confused please.

  45. #45 by My Username Rocks on October 10, 2011

    I’m up for 11.

  46. #46 by Reality Is on October 10, 2011

    I also think that a majority of the people protesting were from out of town and wanted the charges filed. Once charges were filed, they won’t be back and will just wait it out until trial. I said that from the start that the whole thing would slow down each week and appear as old news shortly after the DA is finished. So far I’m right. I think there will always be die hards like 91c and MeriHoe and others, but that’s to be expected in anything someone has passion for like this.

  47. #47 by Reality Is on October 10, 2011

    :)

  48. #48 by Anonymous on October 10, 2011

    you weren’t there on saterday like you said you would be.

  49. #49 by Fullerton on October 11, 2011

    Lead by examples, show your leadership during crisis and be accountable.
    We are no perfect and make mistakes. Nobody blames much.
    So far these corrupted Fullerton officials, politicans, leaders, and cops are disgrace to Fullerton and people.

  50. #50 by Anonymous on October 11, 2011

    Anonymous :you weren’t there on saterday like you said you would be.

    I know you aren’t talking to me because I was there.

  51. #51 by vw type 53a on October 11, 2011

    Oops. ^That was me…wasn’t logged in lol

  52. #52 by merijoe on October 11, 2011

    let me know 9 or 11- right now im on schedule for 9 so let me know

  53. #53 by merijoe on October 11, 2011

    and as usual, irrelevant- wouldnt be demonic RI if it wasnt.

  54. #54 by College Park Codger on October 11, 2011

    It seems Chief Sellers would do anything for Fullerton–except live here.

    His contract requires it. He ignored it. He’s in breach.

  55. #55 by Reality Is on October 11, 2011

    I love how you are never wrong. :)

  56. #56 by 9c1copcar on October 11, 2011

    FEDUP and I will be there around 11.

  57. #57 by Sean on October 11, 2011

    It may appear that way. But the thought that they won’t be back is probably dependent on how the next phase plays out. If the charges are dropped for whatever reason, or the FPD lets the other 4 skate and/or the FBI doesn’t take any action against the department for the cover up that followed… I’d venture a guess that the protests will resume in full force…probably less peaceful than the first round. Just my opinion.

  58. #58 by Anonymous on October 11, 2011

    Comments on ffff have dropped from hundreds to a couple of dozen from the regular shut-ins and assorted Merijoe types. By the time it comes to trial in a year or so, Ron will be in his new McMansion and the not guilty verdict will be a passing blip on the national news crawl.

  59. #59 by vw type 53a on October 11, 2011

    @merijoe: I do not claim to be any kind of authority so I will let you guys figure out the time.

    …that said I am willing to be there whenever and with the recall petitions committed to be there I stand by 9:00. If no one else is there I’ll buy you a cup of coffee while we wait :)

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