We just received a copy of a message to city manager Joe Felz from a Fullerton police officer making specific allegations of corruption, brutality, racism, cronyism and cover-ups under the leadership of police captain and current acting chief Danny Hughes. I also hear that officer Lira has been discussing these issues on KFI AM 640 this afternoon.
From: Ben Lira
Sent: Friday, July 20, 2012 12:42 PM
To: [email protected]; City Manager
Subject: message/information from Benjamin Lira
My name is Benjamin Lira, and although we’ve never met, I’ve been a nearly 17 year dedicated employee of the Fullerton Police Department. Recent events have left the city, the Police department and it’s employees in turmoil. I’m saddened to think I’ve had anything to do with that.
I apologize for reaching out to you via email but myself and my colleagues have stood quiet long enough. I ask that you PLEASE take the time to read this email and reflect on it’s contents.
If my name doesn’t ring a bell, then let me introduce myself and tell you I am the person who drafted the email to solicit bail funds for Manuel Ramos. I’m not writing you to debate the KT events; they speak for themselves. I’ve said all along that I didn’t condone the actions of the Officers, but Manuel Ramos is my friend and I did it to help a friend. Not only did I try to help a friend I checked with then Acting Chief Hamilton who told me, “I can do whatever I want as long as I do it on my own time.” Employees at the PD were confused because having not seen the video where told by Captain Crum, “that’s what happens when you fight with the Police.” On my own time I drafted an email and distributed via PORAC. I didn’t have any intentions other then to solicit donations through union members. Unfortunately, someone from LAPD put the email on his facebook page, Big City Cops. I do not have any affiliation with BCP nor do I agree with their views.
Since drafting this email I’ve been demoted. After my demotion I was placed on paid leave for a text message I did not send and was distributed by members of the FPD. It’s unfortunate that I and on my own time am held to higher standards then some on of the members of the FPD while on duty. Many in the public refer to the “culture of corruption” in the FPD and I’m here to tell you it exist. I’ve resisted long and hard the “culture of corruption” and I can no longer sit back and allow this to ruin the reputation I spent long and hard building with the community, my co workers and my colleagues in the LE profession. Which was once a childhood dream to become a Police Officer has now become a nightmare.
Up until now I’ve decided to remain silent, mostly at the advice of my attorney’s. I can no longer remain silent and my passion to clean up the Police department and re store it’s reputation remains stronger then ever. I feel it’s ironic the person now in charge of the Police department, Dan Hughes, has led the way in the culture of corruption and now makes the decisions for the Department. I implore you to please continue reading and know that against my attorney’s wishes I’m reaching out to you to give you information you may find useful.
When I first began my career in 1995 I was eager to make a difference and that difference started in my assignment at the FPD jail. While working in the jail I watched then Senior Officer Dan Hughes slap an inmate 6-8 times in the face. I thought to myself this person doesn’t need to be a Police Officer and never did I ever imagine this person would one day be in charge. The assault was investigated and as a probationary employee and only 19years old I feel as though I was told what to say and not asked what I saw.
During my career I worked up the ranks from Cadet, Sr Cadet, Jailer, Reserve Officer, Police Officer and Corporal. I attended CSUF and obtained my Bachelors degree in hopes of one day promoting. Sadly I was wrong because I soon realized there was a culture at FPD where a group of White Officers would promote and then promote their friends leaving the rest of us on the outside looking in. If you look at the make up of the PD it’s made up of Supervisors, their family members and friends. I know it’s hard to believe but as you continue to read on I hope you see the evidence I show to support my claim.
In my nearly 17 years as an employee of the Fullerton Police Department I have received one citizen complaint and it was at the beginning of my career. I personally think this is impressive because all of my career but 2 years has been spent in patrol because I’ve never been given a chance to prove myself in details, assignment, training, etc. This frustration grew in to depression and in 2005 I took a leave of absence. Embarrassed as to how I was feeling I didn’t tell anyone. I did what I had always told people and that’s if your not feeling well then seek counseling, and that’s exactly what I did. Unfortunately, this didn’t meet the mold of the culture at FPD because when I returned to work I had 46 metal hangers intertwined on my locker preventing me from opening it. I reported this, but of course nothing ever happened.
Throughout my career I watched as this Culture of Corruption grew and they became increasingly racist. Mexicans would be referred to as “wetbacks” and African Americans would be referred to as the “N” word. I voiced my displeasure but to no avail. On July 22, 2008 a departmental photo was scheduled and during individual photos a group of Mexican Officers were called, “wetbacks,” “where’s your oranges,””Where’s your Chiclets.” For the first time in my career, while in uniform and not on the scene of a tragic crime, I wanted to cry. I filed a complaint and my frustration grew when the FPD brass deemed my complaint “spirited bantering.” I was mortified and couldn’t understand why this could be. From then on I suffered even more ridicule by colleagues teasing me for making a complaint.
Since this time I’ve continued to suffer discrimination. I’ve reported this and ultimately then Chief Sellers scheduled an independent investigation. RCS investigating and consulting ultimately met with me and the results of this investigation have never been given to me. During this investigation I reported how supervisors would leave early and go drinking downtown. I reported how the supervisors would then have Officers take them home in Police/City vehicles. Ironically these same officers who would give them rides home would begin to get promoted and preferred details in the Department. I reported how then Captain Petropolous would teach at FJC and allow FPD members enroll in his class and never show up and get A’s in the class. Doesn’t sound like much until you consider Officers would use these credits which led to certificates and increase pay.
This investigation went on and I reported a laundry list of incidents which largely alleged supervisors were derelict in their duty. I reported how supervisors would go and teach at FJC academy when they should be working at the PD. I didn’t feel it was fair to the citizens that the watch commander was getting paid to teach at FJC instead of being at the PD, but this was the norm and til this day hasn’t changed.
10 days after this interview I was called in on a Sunday to the Watch Commanders office. I was met by an angry Dan Hughes. Hughes told me I was ordered not to talk about the above mentioned investigation and that someone had filed a complaint against me. I was never given a copy of the complaint, I was never told what the complaint was and a follow up investigation took place. I later learned from the Association that it was Dan Hughes attempt to cover up the interview which in turn led to his promotion to Captain.
The more I look around I can’t help but feel Dan Hughes is the common theme amongst corruption that has occurred. For instance, the city is being sued by Clarke, a citizen who said he was assaulted on St Patrick’s day 2010. All those involved know it was Dan Hughes who initiated this contact and took Clarke down to the ground causing him injuries yet no record of this ever exist. In fact, this arrest was followed by Officer Cary Tong purposely slamming on the brakes and while recorded on DAR you can hear Officer Tong allowing the inmates face to slam on the “cage” three times in the Police car. I think it’s sad and ironic how now the city is being sued but up until now Hughes’ involvement is not known. To me this shows what kind of person he really is. In addition to that during this investigation he had Sgt Chocek secretly/privately go up to each officer involved and promise them lenient discipline in return for not reporting Dan Hughes’ involvement.
These are just my stories and quiet frankly I have several more and so do other members of this department. Theres employees that are afraid to come forward in fear of risking their career like I have. There’s a lot of good employees at the FPD, one being Captain Lorraine Jones. Sir, whether you agree with me or not I ask that you please consider the common goal we have and that’s to clean up the Police Department. It breaks my heart to have to listen to the advice of my attorney’s and prepare for lawsuits because that’s not what I’m about. If you question my intentions please ask my friend, Captain Lorraine Jones. She speaks highly of you and it’s for that reason I’ve chosen to reach out to you.
On May 17 I met with the FBI and reported what I’ve said along with other things. The FBI, like yourself, have the opportunity to make a difference for this city, it’s citizens and it’s employees and I urge you to please consider that. I think at the very minimum I’ve given you some evidence of the misdeeds perpetrated by Dan Hughes and I’m hoping it’s enough to launch an investigation and place him on administrative leave. I hope that if at any point you want to meet with me and or use me to help, that you know I’m committed to you and this city and it’s citizens.
I’m sorry for any inconvenience any of my actions have caused.