A Hamel Timeline and Conflict Problem

Chief Hamel and Wife

Was Kathryn Hamel’s Settlement Agreement, to bypass disclosure laws, the byproduct or possibly even the direct result of inter-departmental nepotism and favoritism?

The following email shows that the Internal Affairs investigation into Lieutenant Katheryn Hamel started on or around August 02, 2018.

This smells of a conflict considering the date of that fateful Lady Antebellum concert (August 24, 2018) in which Chief Hendricks, Hamel’s then-boss, allegedly committed battery against an EMT.

Hamel-IA-August2018

This means that Katheryn Hamel was actively being investigated by Fullerton PD’s Internal Affairs division while her husband, Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel, was overseeing the investigation of Katheryn Hamel’s supervisor Captain Oliveras and boss Chief Hendricks.

This information forces us to at least consider a conflict of interest between departments which was kept from the public both at the time and since. We knew of the Hamel connection between departments but not that Fullerton’s Hamel was under investigation at the direction of then-Chief Hendricks.

Instead of sending the Chief Hendricks battery case immediately to an outside agency, Irvine PD appears to have been allowed to complete their investigation.

Wait Wut

Will our own City Council publicly ask the new Chief of Police, Robert Dunn, who was in charge during this fiasco, why this was allowed to play out in such a suspicious way? Don’t count on it. After all, they hired Dunn as permanent Chief last night and tried to do it on the Consent Calendar with zero public input.

What Happened to School Resource Officer Jose Paez

Paez

Something untoward may have been happening at Fullerton High School and the entire community appears to have been once again kept in the dark.  Your children may have had their privacy invaded & may be the victims of somebody they were told to trust.

We’ve received what looks like part of a Body Worn Camera audit and it shows some very questionable information.

Paez BWC Audit

Highlights are as follows (emphasis added):

  • Father reporting his 13 year old daughter having inappropriate relationship with 16 yr old boy. Paez takes photos of text messages from father’s phone with an iPhone.

  • Returned to a home, asked teenage boy and girl if he could get their mother’s phone number. He wrote it on an envelope he was holding with name “***”.

  • Texting on freeway while driving to CHOC with a suicidal teenage girl in backseat.

  • With an iPhone he takes 13 photographs of text messages between 422 victim and suspect from victim’s phone using an iPhone. Unsure if his own or PDs.

  • While investigating Snapchat Hacking report, he takes picture with iPhone of victim girl’s phone screen that has text messages and what appears to the girl in the shower. Girl is 17 years old. At 8m 30s he asks the girl to take screenshots of the conversation (presumably the one he had just photographed) and send it to his work email so he can add it to the case. Why did he take photos with phone?

  • Talking with an 18 year old woman – about some sort of sex crime involving her ex-boyfriend . He tells her there was mention of a sex video. She said it was deleted. He asked to see her phone to confirm the video was not there. She tells him she has “inappropriate” pictures of herself on her camera roll. He takes her phone and scrolls through the pictures. He spends 4 minutes 20 seconds scrolling through her phone.

  • Talking to teenage boy about oral sex video on his phone. Stops recording before interview is over. Next video is 2 hours later with boy’s mother in the room.

  • Talking to girl who took videos and pictures of herself and her boyfriend having sex. Paez pulled the video from his own iPhone to show her. (Not sure if work phone)

  • Takes picture of a teenage boy he is interviewing at a school. Appears Paez adds a caption to the image and sends it to multiple recipients.

  • Takes photos of juveniles phone text messages. Unk if work phone or personal.

  • (17-68541) Paez investigating one juvi with another juvi’s nude pictures on phone. On this case he called CSI to take photos of the images he discovered on the phone.

  • Interviewed a female teacher wearing a skirt. Had his BWC on his belt. Of the 200+ videos I watched of his, this was the only time I’ve seen footage with BWC on belt. Had pretty clear view, under the table they were sitting at, of her knees to hips. Fortunately, nothing “candid” was captured on his BWC. I checked audit trail and discovered he watched the video only once about a month later. Interestingly, the video that preceeded this one was deleted. The deletion occurred because the category was changed, by Paez, from “Arrest” to “Radio Calls”, which changed the deletion schedule from August 29, 2019 to March 04, 2018. Attached is the audit trail for the deleted video.

Make of all of that what you will but quite a bit of it seems like questionable behavior at best.

It is interesting that Officer Paez was able to delete files from the system by changing categories. It would be enlightening to know how often this happens at FPD. That there seems to have been no oversight on this process up this point is problematic to say the least.

Fullerton Officer Jose Paez may or may not be with the Fullerton Police Department anymore, we’ve seen no confirmation either way, but we do know that he was a School Resource Officer (SRO) at Fullerton High School.

This is confirmed though an March 2, 2017 article in the Fullerton Union High School Tribe Tribune.

Paez Tribe Article

We also know that this status as an SRO is no longer current based on FPD’s website about the School Resource Officer program.

FPD SROs 2019

I understand the premise of innocent until proven guilty, but unfortunately, Fullerton PD does not — as they parade names and faces on social media to brag about their arrests while they themselves hide behind the Police Officers Bill of Rights and other such laws. I’d love to give officers the benefit of the doubt but they, through their unions, fight tooth and nail to stop disclosure of criminal acts amongst their brothers and sisters in blue, and enough is enough.

It’s possible that Officer Paez did nothing wrong and I’ll leave that up to the readers to demand answers from City Hall, Fullerton High School and FPD. It seems inappropriate at best to be using a Body Worn Camera to potentially video record under a teacher’s skirt, under a table, or taking screenshots and photos of underage nudity on a phone that might not even be department-issued.

It should be remembered that just a few days ago I showed Christopher Wren was terminated, partially, for having a nude photo of himself on a department-issued phone. Now square that with the above. I’ll share more as I know it and hopefully somebody can demand and get answers as to what is going on over at FPD and City Hall.

No Public Input on the Police Chief

Well folks, Fullerton is at it again. On Tuesday, without any public input, the City Council is slated to appoint Interim Police Chief Robert Dunn as the “Permanent” Chief for the Fullerton Police Department.

I put “Permanent” in quotes because Chiefs tend to leave in disgrace often around these parts.

The position of Police Chief wasn’t put out for applicants despite 5 people applying the last time around. Nope, this time not only is the city not looking to recruit from outside of the city, or even open it up to other in-city employees – they’re shoving it onto the consent calendar.

Dunn - Consent Calender Hire

For the uninitiated I’ll quote a previous post on this very blog about such items.

A typical definition of a consent calendar would be as follows:

Under parliamentary rules governing City Council meetings, Consent Calendar items are reserved for items that are deemed to be non-controversial. They allow a City Council to save the bulk of it’s meeting time for issues in which there is a need for a serious public debate.

So that means that Fullerton’s council thinks that hiring somebody for the position of the Chief of Police for between 5-11 years is non-controversial and not worth discussing.

They don’t even want to have a token discussion on this issue. Not only do we never get oversight, we don’t even get The Performance wall of local government.

Based on some recent stories we’ve seen we might beg to differ about this being something that should be vetted in public. But alas, we at FFFF actually care about transparency and integrity from our government officials which are things this council is adamantly against.

While this doesn’t come as a surprise, it’s actually worse than the last time we hired a new “permanent” Chief. That time city staff actually wrote the questions for council to ask in closed session.

Let us not kid ourselves, even if this was a public hearing our bootlicking council would never a tough question or make demands that would upset their union benefactors.

As per usual, this group of “public servants” just wants to do everything in the dark. Maybe some day we’ll get some openness, honesty and transparency in the city of Fullerton. But don’t count on it.

Nothing to See Here

What Happened to Officer Christopher Wren

Wren is on the right
Wren is on the right…

Some of you may remember the story of Officer Christopher Wren, the FPD brother in blue who pled “no contest” to a list of charges back in 2009. That wasn’t enough to get him booted from the force then but it appears he’s off the force now.

So what happened? What would possibly be worse than false imprisoning somebody?

An affair with a subordinate.

The department learned about the affair when Wren’s wife threw him out of the house and a subsequent investigation took place. During the course of this investigation some things were learned and #3 is a fun note.

“A nude photo of you, taken on October 17, 2017, was located on your Department-issued phone”.

One has to wonder how common this problem is around the station and on department-issued phones.

Based on this report these officers, while on duty, just ignored dispatch and the city they were supposed to be “serving and protecting” so they could “talk” about their dalliances. Sometimes for hours at a time.

The list continues.

Wren-Dismissal 03

Let’s look at #10 for a second.

“while on duty and in uniform and in a women’s restroom at the Fullerton Police Station… you met with Officer Riedl for several minutes to discuss your personal relationship”

They met in the women’s restroom for several minutes to “discuss” their relationship. Is that what the kids are calling it these days?

Finally Officer Wren made a point to “confront” Officer Ramek about their “respective relationships with Officer Riedl”.

It would appear that there was quite the love triangle happening at FPD and that despite the department policy on notification of any such relationships (specifically the subordinate one) it was only discovered once Wren’s wife notified FPD that she threw him out of the house.

Based on FPD’s history this looks like classic turning a blind eye to policy until it becomes a problem too big to ignore. Here’s the relevant policy:

FPD Policy Relationship 01

FPD Policy Relationship 02

We’re not sure what, if anything, happened with Officers Riedl or Ramek or how many “discussions” are still happening in the FPD women’s restroom at this time. As more information is released we’ll be sure to share it.

So What Did Lieutenant Kathryn Hamel Do?

Sgt. Kathryn Hamel

By now you’ve likely seen that the City of Fullerton and the Fullerton Police Department cut a deal with Lieutenant Kathryn Hamel and in doing so bypassed CA’s disclosure law known as SB1421.

We just received a tip which gives us some context into this whole Hamel ordeal. Most of the details are buried but a diligent anonymous soul divulged some of it.

First it appears that Lieutenant Hamel was the subject of two internal affairs investigations and at least one of them was completed. This first image shows this much.

Hamel-IA

We know, thanks to Transparent California, that Fullerton at the time only had 6 Lieutenants.

But to narrow it down more we were also sent the following:

This arrest of Rock Wagner resulted in a lawsuit against the City of Fullerton which we believe is still pending.

Finally we have this image which was sent along to show that even the settlement agreement was written to omit certain facts.

Hamel-Skelly

It would seem that Hamel wasn’t innocent of the charges that led to the internal affairs investigations because they rescheduled a “Skelly” hearing against her.

Now let us put that in context with our earlier post:

“all charges against Hamel, including charges relating to dishonesty, deceit, untruthfulness, false or misleading statements, ethics or maliciousness were never resolved or proven because there was no Skelly hearing or opportunity for appeal and, accordingly, are not sustained.”

If you’re wondering what a “Skelly” hearing is I’ll let the city of Fullerton’s own city attorney Jones & Mayer lay it out:

Due process requires that any deprivation of life, liberty, or property be preceded by notice and opportunity for hearing appropriate to the nature of the case. In California, this is referred to as a Skelly hearing or conference, after the California Supreme Court decision in Skelly v. State Personnel Board, 15 Cal. 3d 194 (1975).

The Ninth Circuit held that, at a minimum, these pre-removal safeguards must include notice of the proposed action, the reasons therefore, a copy of the charges and materials upon which the action is based, and the right to respond, either orally or in writing, to the authority initially imposing discipline.

Basically you don’t schedule a skelly hearing unless you’re going to discipline somebody and take something away from them – usually their job. (more…)

Fullerton Police Cut a Deal to Bypass the Law

As hinted yesterday, we received an anonymous piece of correspondence with a copy of the separation agreement between “Lieutenant” Kathryn Hamel and the City of Fullerton.

It is quite an interesting read. We aren’t the only outlet to receive this so we’re curious to see what coverage, if any, this receives in the press.

From what we have gathered Officer Hamel had at least two internal affairs investigations into her actions. It is alleged that one of them was for giving false statements.

These internal investigations were dropped as a condition of this settlement specifically to avoid disclosure under the law known as SB1421.

To quote the agreement (bold emphasis added, caps lock in original):

“The City will revise its Notice of Intent to Discipline Hamel to remove allegations relating to dishonesty, deceit, untruthfulness, false or misleading statements, ethics or maliciousness.  The Interim Police Chief will place a notice in the file indicating that, pursuant to settlement, all charges against Hamel, including charges relating to dishonesty, deceit, untruthfulness, false or misleading statements, ethics or maliciousness were never resolved or proven because there was no Skelly hearing or opportunity for appeal and, accordingly, are not sustained.   The IA investigation, and related materials including the revised Notice of Intent to Discipline,  will be sealed and maintained in the Human Resources Department, and only in the Human Resources Department, with a notice reading:  “THIS IS A SEALED FILE AND SHOULD NOT BE DISCLOSED OR OTHERWISE PRODUCED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM THE CITY MANAGER, AND ONLY AFTER RECEIVING A WRITTEN OPINION FROM THE CITY ATTORNEY THAT SAID RELEASE OF INFORMATION IS REQUIRED UNDER APPLICABLE LAW.”

“The City asserts, based on a “not sustained” finding of all charges, that any and all records relating to this investigation are not subject to release under Senate Bill 1421.  The City further asserts that any challenge to this legal opinion by any entity will be defended by the City – in court if necessary – to the fullest extent.”

Since Jerry Brown made it possible to find out when police lie, sexually assault people and cause great bodily harm through SB1421 the police and local governments in CA have been scrambling to find ways to block it’s implementation or ways to work around it and here we see one of those ways.

We citizens should fully expect that this is going to be the new normal.

Lacking consequences the police will continue closing cases and ending investigations to protect their own. Watch as the councils and mayors of our city and state do nothing for fear of union funded reprisals at the ballot box.

This is what happens when there is no objective civilian oversight and departments are allowed to handle their own investigations into the wrongdoing of their friends, family and co-workers. (more…)

Did Fullerton Police cut a deal with Kathryn Hamel?

We’ve been told that Kathryn Hamel was allowed to resign from FPD.

In exchange for her not suing for worker’s compensation the city dropped not one but two internal affairs investigations into her conduct.

Did her husband being the Irvine Police Chief play a role in this deal? Did FPD know that she was guilty and cut a deal anyways?

Time will tell as more details are uncovered.

*Update. This post originally stated she was allowed to retire, she was allowed to resign.

What Happened to Fullerton’s Lieutenant Hamel?

The last time we wrote about Fullerton Police Lieutenant Kathryn Hamel it was to share the rumor we had heard that she was on admin leave.

“Word also has it that Katie Hamel, wife of Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel, has been put on leave but we’re trying to very that information and she would make, at least, #4 currently on leave.”

Today we’re wondering what she did to get fired.

We ask because “Dr.” Hamel appears to have a new career as the Dean of Criminology at the online diploma mill that is California Southern University.

Dr Dean Katie Hamel

 

We doubt she just walked away from her FPD gig with the total compensation package of over $230,000/year so the likelihood is that she was fired for cause.

Katie Hamel 2017 Pay

Anybody care to share the cause?

A Fullerton Staffing Question

Hero Pay

The Fullerton Firefighters are pushing a narrative that they’re understaffed and underpaid on social media, so let’s talk about it.

We constantly hear about how underfunded, unpaid, underappreciated, undereverything our Police and Fire Depts are from the “Hero Deserve” crowd and the opposite side likes to point to pay rates, pension spiking, double dipping, medical presumptive, lies about early death, OT abuse, CalPERS costs and other fiscal rebuttals.

But what we almost never talk about is how we actually implement service and if we do things in a smart, fiscally sound or even common sense way in our departments. Our City Council won’t touch these issues because they’re petrified of the unions spending campaign money against them or they’re colluding with the unions in order to get those sweet, sweet endorsements.

Since council won’t discuss these things openly I figured we can do it ourselves before dropping numerous records requests.

Therefore for the sake of starting discussions I’ll drop two topics;

  1. If our fire engines, with a crew of 4, have a max of 2 Paramedics on board and 85% (per their statements) of their calls are medical then what do the other 2+ crew members do during the majority of these calls? Are they glorified Uber just taxiing the paramedics around? What do they do at the hospital? How much time do these non-paramedics spend doing crowd control and the like?
  2. Every time I see a police stop or call where the police department is at a scene I see multiple vehicles on scene. To the casual observer it seems that there are multiple units at every stop seen. I understand the premise of needing or wanting backup but why not drive around in pairs so you have backup with you at all times instead of needing to wait for it and waste the resources (gas, etc) on another vehicle?

Does anybody have stats on these things? How many calls for FFD are actually medical? How many calls does each crew actually respond to and what do they do on scene? How much OT is accumulated for passive activities?

How many calls does FPD respond to and how many of those calls require backup? How much backup typically responds? What’s the response time for this backup? How is this different for traffic stops versus calls for service?

I think as the city prepares for budget meetings with so much of our budget going towards salaries and pensions these numbers should be discussed and be as transparent as possible. If we need to pay people more to retain them we need to make sure we’re getting the most bang for our buck and the best, most logical and fiscally sound, service possible.

Anybody want to dive into these questions?

Fullerton Puts Favoritism over Fire Safety

We’ve received, via a Public Records Request, some of Community Development Director Ted White’s text messages with downtown bar owner Joe Florentine. It looks like Mr. White is working for Florentine which explains a lot:

Ted White Florentine Texts a Ted White Florentine Texts b

To clear this up, those “issues” that Mr. Florentine is talking about include all of his violations of the municipal code and his Conditional Use Permit – specifically his illegal refusal to install fire sprinklers.

Florentines CUP Fire Sprinklers

Florentine is in gross violation and Ted White is pushing a big change to the municipal code through council in order to facilitate Florentine’s bad behavior.

While Mr. White likes to talk about how hard his job is, how impossible enforcement is and how outdated it is to look at “lumens” regarding lighting – he doesn’t admit that fire safety isn’t on his list of priorities – nor is actually doing his job.

Florentine’s properties on the corner of Harbor and Commonwealth, the largest bar / nightclub in all of Downtown Fullerton, as far as we can tell, is the ONLY business given a pass on fire and life safety issues.

We also have it on good authority that Mr. White tried to illegally INCREASE the occupancy at Florentine’s properties, in violation of the law, while ignoring the fire sprinkler issue that has been ignored by staff for 10+ years. Why? Why potentially put more people at risk?

And Mr. White isn’t alone in his belief that one man is above the rules and laws in Fullerton.

Every single year the Fullerton Police Chief, currently Robert Dunn, issues Florentine a Live Entertainment Permit threatening to enforce the applicable laws/permits. And every year the Chief does nothing but wield his rubber stamp for downtown law breakers. This is worse than the old joke of the UN saying “Stop! Or we’ll yell ‘Stop!’ again!” because our Chief can’t even be bothered to use the “S” word. (more…)