It is not often that you find an apology in the Regular Business of the City Council’s Agenda. I have a bad feeling this is just the first of many apologies to come.
The Council’s Agenda for Tomorrow’s meeting includes a staff recommendation that the Fullerton Police Department publicly apologizes and acknowledge that the department’s narcotics unit mistakenly raided the wrong home (read the FFFF backstory).
“On October 20, 2010 Fullerton PD Narcotics Unit detectives were attempting to conduct a probation search on a male adult subject living at 219 S. Ventura Place, in Fullerton. Armed Fullerton PD detectives mistakenly entered the Nordel family residence at 223 S. Ventura Placefrom the rear alley, and ultimately through the back door, believing it to be 219 S. Ventura Place.”
It has taken the City nearly a year to issue the Nordell Family an official apology and devise a process to prevent future unlawful entries by our Fullerton Police Department.
I am concerned that had the Nordell family not brought this to the City Council on several occasions, this public acknowledgment and apology would not be forthcoming.
There are a few lessons we can learn from the illegal raid:
First, people make mistakes. Officers are people and are not infallible.
Second, police officers must understand that blindly following their fellow officers into a fight can have deadly consequences. Although it might not always be practical, officers know the circumstances of the fight first. Had officers entered a different wrong house, it is reasonable to conclude officers would have been met by a gun wielding home-owner whose door was being kicked in by a gang of masked thugs all yelling.
The third lesson is that the Nordells have successfully managed to have the Police Department review their actions, recognize the Department’s mistake, and develop a policy for conducting future raids. The Nordell family did not have to sue over the raid though they certainly had the right to. Instead, they sought to make their community safer. In the end, the Nordells may have saved many lives by being vocal and active in the administration of their City’s police services.
Fourth, the Fullerton Police Department has listened to the public and made changes that will protect officers and the public. This shows that the Department is willing to look at new ways of serving the community.
I commend the Nordells for coming forward publicly and holding the Police Department and City Council responsible.