Civilian Oversight in Fullerton Cops’ Future?

Oversee me? Fat chance!

A Friend sent in this analysis of how an oversight group might bring some accountability to the police department.

A Civilian Oversight Group for Fullerton

“Civilian Oversight” refers to the ongoing monitoring of police activities with a view toward holding each police officer accountable for the services they provide, with the people they serve, (both good and bad) as well as the policies the police force operate under. Effective civilian oversight and influence of police is essential to ensure that the police force uses its powers and authority in a manner reflecting respect for law and individual rights and freedoms

A review of literature written about this subject suggests the single most important element in law enforcement is accountability. Holding individual police officers and law enforcement agencies accountable for their actions provides for lawfulness and legitimacy in policing, Citizen oversight groups occupy a unique niche in the law enforcement community. They are often lauded by citizens, avoided be government officials, and opposed by the police departments they seek to monitor. Due to the close working relationships between city officials and prosecutors have with police it can be troublesome for these individuals to pursue a police oversight program as it can damage cooperative partnerships with law enforcement personnel.

Citizens however are highly motivated to become part of the police oversight process. Being a member of an oversight group allows citizens to have their voices heard in what is a closed investigation and sanctioning process. Citizens have become disillusioned with the oversight process because civilian groups rarity have a sufficient level of power and facilitate change in the police agencies they oversee. Without the cooperation of the police agencies or mandated power from city officials oversight groups are held to playing a minor , advisory role in the investigation of police misconduct.

One of the main reasons for this is the strong opposition put forth by rank and file police officers as well as the labor unions that represent them. These groups see civilian oversight groups as untrained outsiders that are unable to objectively and effectively investigate incidents of police misconduct.

In order to increase their ability to produce the desired results, citizens’ oversight groups must continue their efforts and to remain visible in the communities they serve. For well established groups this means for providing an easy to find resource for individuals mistreated by the police. For newer or unsanctioned oversight groups visibility is crucial is a first step toward giving legitimacy both in their community as well as in the political landscape of the city.

The composition an oversight group is also an important factor in building a strong profile. It is important to have a well spoken and diverse membership base that communicates both strength and compassion to individuals and communities dealing with abuse of police power.

On July 11, 2012 there will be a meeting in the library to discuss the benefits of a civilian oversight group for the city of Fullerton. In about a month there will be a planning meeting for this civilian oversight group. See you there!


Law N Disorder

68 thoughts on “Civilian Oversight in Fullerton Cops’ Future?

  1. I have been giving this matter a whole bunch of thought in the past year and have arrived at the conclusion that Fullerton already has a police oversight commission. It’s called the City Council, and the recall proved it. The fact that the Three Bald Tires abdicated their responsibility to control their own cops was the primary reason they were sent packing.

    In my study of government I have discerned that those that intend to do nothing serious about an issue create ad hoc committees to “study” the issus – often to death or irrelevance.

    Don’t believe me? Look at how the City Manager used the Water Rate Ad Hoc Committee to stall the issue of the illegal water tax rescission for over a year.

    1. I am inclined to believe that Harpoon is right as well. At the end of the day, the goal related to oversight should be that it is intelligent, assertive and empowered. However, it is an interesting conundrum that an oversight committee might bring some value if you have a weak council and increase barriers to improvement if you have a strong, excellent council as I believe we now have.

    2. I agree, we just need a city council that has no cops on it from any city whatsoever, retired or otherwise. Let’s get the city council to do their job this time around. THEY are the oversight committee.



  2. Harpoon is right. An oversight board just adds another layer of bureaucracy to an already top heavy police-controlled pro-union city hall. Felz and his fellow miscreants should be very weary. Freshen up your resumes!

  3. I think a good start would be to post an organizational chart of FPD here on this website showing the chain of command of all officers in FPD. Knowing who is who and having names of their supervisors would help to show who is accountable for who. Also, encouraging all victims of FPD abuse to post their stories here, along with the names of the offending officers.

    Shine a big bright light on these cockraches and keep it on always! eventually the bad ones will move on to somewhere that is easier for them to do their evil.

    I am sure the attention over the last year has really ruined the dirty pigs good time here in Fullerton. They know everyone is watching and waiting for the next FPD screw-up. The pressure must be unbearable! Keep it up!!!

    1. So you’d just send any dirty cops away to do their crimes, and collect their take, to/from other innocent communities?

  4. Harpoon is spot on. The oversight responsibility should fall with the City Council. This is an effort to divert accountability and pass it off to someone else. Don’t fall for the ‘it’s not my job’ BS. If the Council members don’t want to do the heavy lifting – don’t run for office.

    Look what happened at the County level. After the corrupted Carona years the supervisors told the citizens that it could not establish a citizen’s review panel because the citizens were not qualified to review sensitive information. So the supervisors claimed that they had to appoint a lawyer to run the Office of Independent Review which has proved to be worthless and just another arm of the Sheriff’s department.

    Force the City Council to do their job and hold the cops in check. If they are unwilling to do their job – have another recall.

    There’s your answer.

    1. If the city council is the oversite board for the FPD then they should have viewed the tape that Bruce Whittiker was requesting instead of sitting around waiting for sompthing to happen.

  5. I think if they can come up with a California Welcome Center agency designed to act as personal travel concierge to assist in all aspects of your California trip, they can sure develop a volunteer group of a few citizens to help FPD out, I’m thinking a crash course in “learning police” doesn’t seem that it’s too difficult to learn, if they did it so can anyone-it’s not “rocket science”.
    I would think Hughes with all his talk of transparency, would be thrilled to have some taxpaying citizens watching the henhouse.
    In the past, it would have been nice if city council wanted to do this for Fullerton but there was alot of buck passing, I’m sure this new batch of council will make some changes- I don’t see it as an extra layer of red tape, I see it as getting the citizens involved in something they should be involved with- after all who foots the bill and is always the last one told?

    1. Exactly. I started saying we needed an oversight comittee last summer after the murder, and I still think it’s a great idea. Naturally the police are going to resent it, so what? It needs to have teeth and investigate every instance in which a weapon is used. Now is the time, while citizens care, before apathy returns.

      1. I agree with you guys. Both a good council AND an oversight committee. Absolutely no cops or anyone associated with LEOs on the oversight committee too.

  6. I agree that the City Council is ultimately responsible for overseeing the FPD, but realistically, they are not going to gave time to personally review any but the highest profile police abuse claims.

    For the lower profile cases the Council will need help and an Advisory Committee makes sense. Let the Council appoint and replace the committee members as they see fit so the Council is still ultimately responsible fir the committee’s actions.

    1. If the City Council does not want to give time to personally review questionable police action or police misconduct – recall them again.

      As far as a citizen’s review panel goes – you will be given the same answer as the County citizens were given: That you do not have the credentials or qualifications to view sensitive information protected under the Police Officer Bill of Rights. So they will hire insider lawyers who end up being cop lapdogs.

      Make the city council do it’s job. It if refuses – recall them again.

      It’s easy.

    2. Bad idea as they’ll appoint their buddies. Do you really think the new council members are immune from nepotism? But on the other hand I’m not sure elections would work either.

    1. Maybe, but once it’s out there, it’s out there.

      Just like you can tell a jury not to consider something, but they already heard it.

    2. “Oversight boards are useless without subpoena power”

      Oversight boards have proven to be worthless WITH subpoena power.

      When are you folks going to wake up?

  7. For those who are skeptical about whether Citizen Oversight can be beneficial, please consider attending the presentation July 11, 6:30 pm at the Library Conference Center. This is just the first step in a series of discussions to determine what can be done to prevent the problems that have occurred in the FPD. If you have ideas, we need to hear them.

  8. Good Morning Jane,

    I enclosed a URL of a page from the independent police citizens commission in the United Kingdom. This agency is comprised entirely of citizens that are by law not allowed to have any experience working with police prior to service with the IPCC, and has worked remarkably well in helping bring transparency and accountability into policing.

    1. Note that the citizens that are on the UK’s version of the Independent Police Commission are paid for their service.

      If the city of Fullerton is going to expect citizens to do the herculean task of cleaning up the police department for zero compensation, they’ll get exactly what they pay for.

      1. I’d like to know how many officers are actually disciplined or fired for misconduct. Having a “commission” or “oversight” committee is one thing but having one that is actually neutral is another thing.

        John Mack the hack and the rest of the LA Police Commission cronies overwhelmingly rule in favor of police officers also they’re picked by the mayor.

        If it were left up to me any police commission would be comprised of local citizens entering a lottery where 12 are picked at random then 6 are assigned to the commission for 1 year. The other 6 will serve as alternates.

        Anyone assigned to the commission will not be allowed to re-enter the lottery for a year.

      2. Will these compensated commission members be eligible to join FPOA? Compensating commission members is an admirable idea. I know you’re hoping this will promote a powerful, fair body to eninsure an ethical police dept. However…

        1. I like the idea of a lottery to pick Fullerton citizens who would be willing to serve on an independent commission.
          Make sure that their compensation for serving is at the average annual salary as an FPD officer.

          No union.

  9. I see a lot of Fullerton cops getting huge civil payouts from the city of Fullerton violating their POBAR rights. What attorney group is picked to replace Jones and Mayer?

    Your fight should be in Sacramento to overthrow POBAR.

    1. Your fight should be in Sacramento to overthrow POBAR.

      Actually, we can disband the department and throw most of your fat otherwise unemployable asses out and fight for POBAR reform at the same time and there isnt a damn thing you can do except whine to the OC Register and post B.S here.

      HA HA HA!

        1. Just like Ramos and Cicinelli will be charged with crimes, Wolfe terminated and 3 council people recalled, it will never happen. Keep dreamin’

  10. Stockton is on the verge of bankruptcy. It remains to be seen if the current municipal and police union contracts will be kept or dumped. Stockton, Vallejo and San Diego all will be setting the pace for future dealings with PD’s if cities are on the cusp of bankruptcy.
    In North Las Vegas which had a 40% population decrease in the past 4 years, municipal employees were cut first, now the real cuts are in the police department.

    1. Bankruptcy is tough. You really have to be in a unsaveable position. You can’t just do it for fun.

      San Diego and San Jose aren’t PERS. that’s the main difference.

      Most cities aren’t close to bankruptcy. Balanced budgets. Look around. They are all approving them this week.

  11. today’s arraignment of the two cop killers has been delayed until July 13. Apparently the Fullerton PD failed to provide six minutes of audio tape, so the lawyer says “important” evidence wasn’t submitted so how could the judge make a proper decision to take it to trial. Lawyer Barnett might be a piece of shitscum, but the fucker knows the system.

    1. And it wasn’t six minutes, more like 13 minutes. Makes a difference. Barnett is fucking good. He is going to chew them up and spit them out.

      1. Not the same person John Doe, I just mean that they never

        really offers anything in return other than drivel.

        Their names look similar also.

  12. Actually, what needs to happen is that a Civilian Authority Board should be created…stress on the word “Authority.” Meaning that civilians from the general public should have the ULTIMATE say in what happens in a case of excessive force or corruption. POBOR should be repealed, and “Internal Affairs” should be eliminated. If there is an allegation of police brutality, then the case must by LAW be turned over to the Civilian Authority Board, and the police department and chief should have no say in it whatsoever. If the board decides that an officer used excessive force, then the case must by LAW be turned over to the prosecutor for charges to be filed against the officer. No more cover ups, because the police chief and city council would not have a say in it at all. Any complaints of police abuse are immediately forwarded to the board. If they decide that the case warrants for the officer to be fired, it happens right then and there. If they decide that it warrants charges to be filed against the officer, it happens right then and there.

    That is the ONLY way we are going to get rid of police corruption and brutality. We have to completely strip away authority from them and not allow them to “investigate” themselves. The public should have immediate authority over the police. WE are their bosses, and they need to be reminded of that fact.

  13. He’s just delaying the inevitable. Regardless of how much or little time they get, they have to live with the fact they murdered an innocent man. They’ll never be cops again, they’ll drain all of their financial resources fighting the charges, and they’ll leave town because of the fact that their mere presence in public makes 90% of the citizens sick to their stomach.

    1. @Brandon…Believe me, they don’t lose sleep over Kelly Thomas. Because they didn’t kill him. And it’s coming out now. So read all you can, cause more is coming. But maybe RT is going to be losing sleep cause his millions are slowly fading away into the sunset.

  14. Police Fatality Statistics Show 2012 On Pace To Be Safest Year For Police In 60 Years.

    “The job of police officer also isn’t anywhere near the most dangerous job in America. If we include traffic fatalities, the job of police officer will in some years rank among the 10 most dangerous in America (PDF). But take away car accidents, and it doesn’t come close.

    Blips in 2010 and 2011 aside (and of course, the terror attacks of 2001), the job of police officer has been getting safer for about a generation now — much safer.

    None of this is meant to diminish the deaths of those police officers who are killed on the job. But how these figures are portrayed in the media, and how they’re perceived by politicians and the public, can significantly impact public policy debates. Exaggerated portrayals of the dangers of police work can be used to argue for more gun-control laws, to argue for increased police departments (or, in recent years, to argue against budget cuts), to defend the increasing militarization of America’s police forces, to argue against more accountability and oversight with reforms like civilian review boards, and to argue for more leeway for police officers to dispense “street justice” in order to maintain order and to ensure that criminals still fear them.”

  15. Mrs. Doe: What would you purport Kelly Thomas died of? Hypothermia maybe? What’s coming out? You think if he was breaking into cars, which there is no evidence to substantiate, that somehow excuses beating and suffocating a man to death? Keep dreaming sister. I predict Ron will get in the neighborhood of 10 to 20 million. But the taxpayers will have to foot the bill, so once again the police department avoids accountability.

    1. Yes Brandon, thanks to Ron Thomas’ big pockets. We are stuck with the bill. And all because he didn’t take the responsibility of a father to his son.

      1. Sure says a lot about your father. He’d smack you across the face for that comment, if he cared enough about you.

  16. If any of these murderous cops and their groupies had a decent upbringing they would not be on here defending a cold-blooded murder. I would bet Ron Thomas showed much more love and affection to Kelly than Cicinelli and Ramos’ parents ever displayed. They did not even care enough about their kids to get them decent psychological care, anger management, and in the case of Ramos, to control his food intake. Maybe Ramos will drop a few pounds in the joint.

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