Should Fullerton Have A Police Commission?


The most frustrating thing about the awful story of the death of Kelly Thomas and its aftermath is not knowing what goes on behind the closed doors of the Fullerton Police Department. Certainly a position of leadership comes with the obligation to take responsibility for what goes on within a department, but even if a Police Chief falls on his sword and resigns or is forced out of his job we really don’t know what is happening with the individual officers who comprise the police force. One of the most repeated statements heard from the many irate speakers at Tuesday night’s council meeting was that the police work for us, not the other way around.

Fullerton has commissions for parks and planning, and committees for transportation, infrastructure, the library, energy, community grants, investments, technology and even bicycles and the arboretum. One way or another, they oversee or at least review the activities of various city departments, namely Parks and Recreation, Engineering, the Library and Community Development. Why is there no commission to oversee the Police Department?

Other cities have them. A Fullerton Police Commission won’t prevent every mistake or outright crime committed by individual officers, but it could create appropriate policies and procedures, review individual cases, have access to all documents and recordings (like the notoriously unreleased tape of the beating of Mr. Thomas),  advise the city council on matters of employment before the city council, and generally audit the effectiveness of the department.

If we are truly in charge of the Fullerton Police Department we should assert our authority and acknowledge our collective responsibility to oversee its policies and actions. It’s our department, let’s treat it that way.

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  1. #1 by Erin on August 9, 2011

    Absolutely..

  2. #2 by Back The Badge on August 9, 2011

    Well, the last thing we need is second guessing and back-stabbing our fine police department – the fabulous men and women who saddle up each and every day to protect you and your families. Civilians just don’t understand the nature and complexity of police work.

    Fortunately we have two wonderful former police veterans on our city council. They are the ones who know police work and will oversee our great department.

  3. #3 by 1994 Part 2 on August 9, 2011

    What BULLSHIT!! Give me a break, I just had my breakfast.

  4. #4 by Rob on August 9, 2011

    Right now, the only people who are proud of this department are the Gambino’s and the Bonnanno’s!!!!

  5. #5 by info warrior on August 9, 2011

    Seriously Back he Badge? So what part of this killing am I supposed to be proud of? I support our department and the fine men and women whom know the line that MUST not be crossed. This case however Mr. Badge has crossed that line and must be dealt with. And if the cover up is exposed for what it seems to be, then the police veterans on the council must be held accountable.

  6. #6 by Bankhead and McKinley MIA on August 9, 2011

    What other choice do we have. I think its a good idea. There is no complexity to police work that any educated person couldn’t understand. The law is clearly defined and it is your job to enforce it. Seems pretty easy to me. I think members of FPD have made it more complicated than it is because they have to write and rewrite memos after an arrest.

    Great idea!

  7. #7 by Great Idea! on August 9, 2011

    What Fullerton PD needs is a police union, if they had one the union would most certainly throw these guys under the bus …oh wait

    What Fullerton City needs is a City Council, if they had one the City Council would conduct a quick investigation and immediately fire the cops involved and the police chief …oh wait

    No matter what you do and no matter how many commissions or boards you create, if there is institutionalized corruption nothing will change.

  8. #8 by PJ on August 9, 2011

    I say no. It’s the City Council’s job. We cannot even find enough good pols to run for City Council. How are we going to find enough for another commission? Are we going to elect them, have the council appoint their buddies?

  9. #9 by TheFullertonWatcher on August 9, 2011

    Many cities have them abd it would be wonderful if we did too. If fact we should change the license plates to say “publicy owned” and on all government facilities. They work for us and it is our equitment.

  10. #10 by TheFullertonWatcher on August 9, 2011

    We did have good people run for city council. The problem was that too many people vote for the guy who they think they know. Bankhead has been there so long everyone knows his name. McKinley has been police chief so long everyone knows his name! It has nothing to do with people not qualified it has everything to do with name recognition.

  11. #11 by pearl on August 9, 2011

    if there is a commission it should be elected. in london there have been three days of riots caused by london’s “shoot to kill” policy. http://www.workingmannews.com has live stream from london! this is what happens when people feel hopeless.

  12. #12 by Anonymous on August 9, 2011

    #9 You don’t understand; Tony, Travis, Fullerton Savage, Joe Sipowiz, The desert rat, joe sipowicz and Mr. peabody would sit on this commission. That will give you three qualified people to do the job. Please list the cities in Orange County that have this commisssion.

  13. #13 by Joe Zilch on August 9, 2011

    No, we don’t need another level of government to muck things up in this city. We just need the DA to do his job, likewise the police.

  14. #14 by OSMS on August 9, 2011

    I can understand your reference to the need of civilian oversight in order to uphold integrity of the workings of the police department, but before adding another layer perhaps we should try to reform the coziness between city council, city management and the police department? Because quite frankly, a police commission can become as onerous over time as well.
    Pros and cons need to be weighed, research should be done in earnest and not just a quick google on the topic.

  15. #15 by liferinfullerton on August 9, 2011

    BINGO!!! and good luck changing that….makes me sick, but it is so true.

  16. #16 by liferinfullerton on August 9, 2011

    no more committees looking after committees looking after committee, haven’t we learned anything from the present governments? State and Federal? These are just more opportunities for some hack to have a plush (lifetime pension paying) city job with no fear of losing it. NO MORE!

    Clean the slate of what we have now and start over.

  17. #17 by I SPY on August 9, 2011

    #10 I Agree, appoint their buddies or relatives!
    The trust has been violated. Clean house… FPD, City Council, (three blind monkeys)
    Save millions in claims.
    Contract with OCSD until if ever the lot can be trusted.
    No Band Aids.
    We will probably find Racketeering if we look.
    We can do it.

  18. #18 by ANNOYMOUS on August 9, 2011

    What Fullerton needs is, not only a civilian police review board, PLUS the State Attorney General AND/OR The Department of Justice [DC], should relieve the Orange County District Attorney’s office, AND take-over all future investigations in the Kelly Thomas case! And this is based on the cold hard facts that Tony Rack is incompetent and CORRUPT!!

  19. #19 by I Live in Fullerton on August 9, 2011

    No need for a Police Commission and no need for a Fullerton Police Department. Get rid of the entire department and contract out with OCSD.

  20. #20 by Concerned on August 9, 2011

    What is the deal with Joe Felz? Do we really need a consultant here? (see Fullerton Stories below). Has selecting this person been a transparent and open process with clear criteria evenly applied across many well qualified candidates? (such as did NOT occur with the selection of Felz to serve as City Manager) Is the City Council going to rubber stamp this idea? Approve the cost? What is this going to cost? Exactly what is this person going to do? Exactly what are the deliverables? Is he going to provide justification to fire Sellers or not fire Sellers. You don’t need any more justification to fire Sellers. Fire Sellers. Sellers has demonstrated absolutely no leadership as Police Chief during the past month. He falls far short of a leader. Are McKinley and Bankhead going to weigh in on this issue or recuse themselves which would be the ethical thing to do? They should recuse themselves from making any decision involving a consultant and any decision regarding what a consultant recommends, if someone is retained to perform consulting service to the City regarding the police department. They are insiders. They cannot, by definition, make impartial, sound decisions. In fact, they should recuse themselves from all decisions regarding the Police Department.

    City Manager Requests Outside Review of PD
    August 8, 2011

    Fullerton City Manager Joe Felz is recommending that the city council – at a special meeting – vote to hire Michael Gennaco, an independent consultant who works with law enforcement agencies. The objective of Gennaco’s hire: To review the policies and procedures at the Fullerton Police Department. Felz’ move to hire Gennaco comes after…

  21. #21 by Fullerton on August 9, 2011

    You don’t want a police commission. It’s people dumber than council members and they don’t have access to everything. Their access is limited. It turns out to be an expensive waste of money and not needed. Check around.

  22. #22 by ANNOYMOUS on August 9, 2011

    GOOGLE: Ashley McDonald teen shot 17 times in the back by two Huntington Beach police officers—OH BY THE WAY, Rackauckas did not find them at fault. And this guy is still around to let murdering cops get away with gestapo tactics!!

  23. #23 by AMERICA has become a Police State! on August 9, 2011

    NO! – We need LESS government, not MORE!

    The current laws need to be inforced and we need new one’s to encourage “good cops” and “whistleblowers” to come forward without suffering negative consequences!

    Please sign this petition to Congress:

    http://www.petition2congress.com/4898/kelly-thomas-law/

  24. #24 by Go FFFF on August 9, 2011

    The next city council election will be in like 16 months. Hopefully some fair minded, bright, residents will sign up and give the good- ol-boys club some competition. I really don’t care if they are republican, democrat, independent, libertarian or somewhere in between as long is as they are people with integrity!

  25. #25 by Jiminy on August 9, 2011

    Oh yeah, Back, we should never, ever second-guess authority. Cause they’re always, always, right. Especially when they take a homeless schizophrenic man and bash his face into the concrete while tasering him repeatedly while he screams in pain and begs for help. We should just sit back and watch that respectfully, because the mighty Police occifers are the ones keeping us all safe in our little beddies at night. Jackass.

  26. #26 by Anonymous on August 9, 2011

    The next election will be a lot sooner than 16 months.

  27. #27 by Reality Is on August 9, 2011

    Again. You really think that running the council in place and the police Chief in place is going to change this city around for the good forever? Come on. Look at reality. Politicians are politicians. Doesn’t matter who when where they came from. It’s just in a time like this, or any public matter, the blame has to go somewhere so in this case they blame the Chief and the entire City Council for the actions of 2 cops. Reality is? :)

  28. #28 by admin on August 9, 2011

    To the commenter known as…

    PapaWants$$, Reality Is, Fullerton, Goner, UrAMoron, NoWorries, Tough Guy, Oh Hello There, Guessmenot, Fullerton Nut, Donut Muncher, Paul, Papa Didn’t Care, Doinkers, PinkHotDogs, Respect, PapaKellyIsAGoldDigger, GetAClue, etc.

    …please pick one name and stick to it.

  29. #29 by Anonymous on August 9, 2011

    When is the next City Council meeting?

  30. #30 by AllofTheAbove on August 9, 2011

    Is that better? :)

  31. #31 by Joey4justice on August 9, 2011

    http://www.facebook.com/groups/KellyThomasPeacefulProtest/
    This facebook page is a positive forum for people to come and discuss ideas on how to get justice peacefully.

  32. #32 by Diane on August 9, 2011

    Please stay on this and get those 3 BAD GUYS
    Bankhead,Jones, Pat Mc

  33. #33 by Big Rock on August 9, 2011

    A commission will only be another layer of appointed relatives, friends ex-officers who have a “Medical retirement” and raking in another income on top of a bloated retirement income. Then they will have luncheons and dinners with wives/husbands on the taxpayers backs.
    Oh and remember how many of these “Commissions’ travel to other countries on the taxpayers dime extravagant hotels and first class flights, and will justify taking trips by saying “we need to see how they manage crime, it is necessary to see how Greece handles corruption” MY as* they need a commission!

  34. #34 by Big Rock on August 9, 2011

    EXACTLY!!!!

  35. #35 by Big Rock on August 9, 2011

    HA!

  36. #36 by Kim on August 9, 2011

    I agree. Are there any currently in Orange County? You also need to look at how effective the LAPD’s commission is too.

  37. #37 by van get it da artiste on August 9, 2011

    Fullerton Police Department should be taken over by OC sheriff department.

  38. #38 by Steve Brow on August 9, 2011

    Before Ralph Kennedy founded the Fullerton Observer, he founded a police/citizens organizaton in the wake of the Hillcrest Park riots.

    If you want an effective police commission, put differences aside and talk to Rusty Kennedy.

  39. #39 by Another LA Times Article on August 9, 2011

  40. #40 by Anonymous on August 9, 2011

    On the news tonight, they interviewed McKinley and kept calling him Bob. Ugh, media!

  41. #41 by Kim on August 9, 2011

    And why is it not around anymore?

  42. #42 by Ignacio Lopez on August 9, 2011

    If you cannot fix or get rid of current fundamental structure, there is No need to add another complex layer.
    Our country do have enough laws and justice to protect our Rights. The same people suppose to protect and uphold the laws are the ONE breaks the laws and lie about it.

  43. #43 by fullerton lover on August 10, 2011

    Perhaps am internal auditing scenario similar to the way that a mystery shopper interacts with retail clerk? Mandate that the police send follow-up feedbacks forms to every 1 out of 10 calls for awhile until their scores improve and then make it 1 out of 25 once they improve or the scores start slipping below a pre-determined threshold. Scores can measure response times, attitudes, effectivity, etc… the main thing that this bring is accountability. Maybe something like officer raises, bonuses, and promotions can be geared more towards performance using this method rather than political pull.

  44. #44 by anulese on August 10, 2011

    rusty kenney? another bureaucratic broom closet habituate. Here is another fact about Ralph Kennedy, Rusty Kennedy’s father. When he first ran for Fullerton city council, he was found to have persons who did not live in Fullerton use his address at that time, 1031 N Richman Avenue, Fullerton, to register as valid residents of Fullerton so they may vote for him. This fact was discovered days before the election and thankfully Ralph Kennedy did not win ever a political position due to his voter registration misconduct. Rusty Kennedy’s father attempt to corrupt the voting process may have been the tip of the iceberg and in my opinion the saying the apple doesn’t fall from the tree may apply to this family

  45. #45 by Bob McKinley on August 10, 2011

    Just don’t call me late for my pension(s)!

  46. #46 by The real Curious on August 10, 2011

    I believe the people who were living in his house at the time probably had the right to vote. Ralph Kennedy got the royal shaft by Dick Ackerman and company. He would have been a million times better than Ackerman. At least he was honest, unlike Dick.

  47. #47 by Steve Brow on August 10, 2011

    To set the record straight about Ralph Kennedy’s voter registration “scandal”, at the time he was housing six volunteers for the United Farm Workers. They would work 28 days, 12 hours a day in the fields, and then come and rest for two weeks at Ralph’s house. They would walk to our home around the corner and use our pool.

    At any given time, there were two at Ralph’s and four out in the field. They were all, by the nature of what they were doing, very interested in politics and wanted to vote–mainly in state issues. They had no other home, so they all registered at Ralph’s address.

    Additionally, Fullerton had passed an ordinance prohibiting more than six unrelated people from living in a single family home. Six farm workers plus even one Kennedy makes seven. But at any given time there were only three living there.

    There was also an issue of one of the Kennedy daughters being registered in both Fullerton and Santa Cruz County. It was proven that Santa Cruz County had sent information to Orange County to remove her from the rolls, but that the Orange County registrar had neglected to do so.

    The entire issue was taken by Ralph’s opponents to the Daily News Tribune of Fullerton. Al Hewitt and Nick Harder looked at it, a decided that it was a non-issue. Then the Santa Ana Register printed it, and Nick and Al felt that they were forced to print.

    Nick Harder wrote an editorial which gave Ralph’s explanation and pretty much opined that the charges had little merit. But he stated that the newspaper did not think Ralph was right for the Fullerton City Council. He cited no local issues. He only pointed out Ralph’s work with the United Farm Workers and noted the UFW’s unpopularity in Fullerton.

    Ralph came in fouth in a field of, I think, nine candidates in a race for three seats.

  48. #48 by fullerton lover on August 10, 2011

    I also think it’s time that Fullerton residents get to freely elect our next police chief instead of having him “annointed” by the three stooges on the City Council. Appointees are ususally of the same ilk as the person that appoints them and are never really held accountable to the public. Their allegiance is usually only to their friend that appointed them and not to the public electorate that they serve.

  49. #49 by Steve Brow on August 10, 2011

    Rusty Kennedy may be a bureaucratic broom closet habituate, but the desire expressed was to form a Police Commission; which is added bureaucracy. And this particular bureaucracy would be right in Rusty’s broom closet.

    I don’t remember why the original commission ended. I know that by the time I was wlking around Fullerton with long hair in 1974, the police no longer thought that having long hair was a reason to be stopped on the street and questioned. And the Hillcrest Park riots seemed like a long ago memory.

  50. #50 by Steve Brow on August 10, 2011

    On the other hand, Fullerton Lover, that would make the police chief unaccountable to the city council. The City of San Bernardino is currently going through a problem where an elected City Attorney is warring with members of the city council. He is supposed to be advising the council on legal matters but is regularly provoking public controversies and acting like he is a second mayor.

    No system of government can prevent all problems. It looks as though with the current form of government, the general public of Fullerton so far is doing a very good job of holding the police department accountable through the city council.

  51. #51 by kee da peace on August 10, 2011

    Unfortunately, your city council is supposed to have oversight. But, we see how that worked out.

  52. #52 by van get it da artiste on August 10, 2011

    his daughters and their friends lived in northern california and one member who did live in his house was there for only a few months and did not establish residency in California, this particular person was a legal resident of New York state

  53. #53 by kee da peace on August 10, 2011

    Yeah. Then they can wait until they haul them into jail and have the inmates beat them to death.

  54. #54 by van get it da artiste on August 10, 2011

    Steve, I rented a room from ralph and natalie kennedy at 1031 n richman avenue , fullerton when ralph kennedy ran for city council and was caught in registration fraud, there were no UFW volunteers living there during the time in question. sorry to deflate your idol

  55. #55 by Anonymous on August 11, 2011

    Still waiting to find out what OC cities have these police commisions you spoke about.

  56. #56 by LeRoy Murray on August 12, 2011

    Finally!! I’ve been saying since this began Fullerton, and all of OC for that matter needs a citizens revue board or in other words a police commission. With real teeth that would make it effective and feared by the police, not the joke that it’s been in many cities before.

  57. #57 by The Fullerton Savage on August 13, 2011

    We can be the first. I’m tired of Fullerton lagging behind.

  58. #58 by keep da peace on August 13, 2011

    Out West we seem to prefer “Office of Independent Review” or other oversight terms. A police commission is a fine idea but you will still find out that the laws giving peace officers due process rights (which I am not against) may get in the way of what you expect a commission can do. Take a look at the ineffectiveness of the Orange County OIR and how that turned into a job for political hacks and cronies. It is just another mouthpiece staffed by an attorney who knows how to blow smoke up people’s asses. That is not what Fullerton should be saddled with. Unfortunately, until you get rid of the two lifer cops on the council, that is exactly what Fullerton may end up with.

  59. #59 by SDLocal on August 13, 2011

    I suspect that no matter what eventually happens in the Kelly Thomas case, the citizens of Fullerton will forever pay close attention to the City Council and police department.

    Hopefully they won’t be sweeping up ashes and broken glass. Nobody wants to see this.

    These are dangerous times, and citizens are becoming dangerous people.

    The Fullerton blue crew kicked more than Kelly’s head that night.

    They kicked a hornet’s nest. It’s on.

    The police brutality epipdemic in America is front page now, as well it should be.

    Patience, persistence and peace.

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