A Little Bit About Chief Sellers

Here’s a re-post of a story that Travis did in March 2010 on now AWOL Chief Sellers. It seems that Sellers was pretty good at slingin’ the ol’community policing lingo and didn’t seem like the sort of guy that would cultivate a corrupt, out of control goon squad.

What neither Travis nor any of us knew was that Sellers was doing very little to impress this philosophy onto the crew of thugs, misfits, whackjobs, and pickpockets he inherited from Pat McPension. Unfortunately for us, Chief McPension had cultivated quite a nasty little garden over his 17 year command.

But let’s not shed any misplaced tears for Sellers. Even tho’ McPension left him a considerable criminal element, he appears to have done nothing to weed out the noxious blooms in the FPD flower bed during his abortive, two-year stint as Chief.

– Joe Sipowicz

Last week Sharon Quirk-Silva invited me to join her public chat with Fullerton Police Chief Michael Sellers at the Fullerton Museum Center. Chief Sellers answered a variety of questions from Fullerton’s usual cluster of civic participants. Some were there to ask legitimate questions, while others used the open Q&A format to primarily talk about themselves under the guise of asking a question (the excessive use of the perpendicular pronoun reveals the intentions of the self-important).

The most vacuous question of the night came from school board candidate Aaruni Thakur, who was interested in the number of Baker to Vegas trophies displayed in the lobby of the police department. While some of us at FFFF would never question the opportunity to make a mockery of the ‘ol dog and pony show, it struck me as a missed opportunity for the untested school board candidate who should have been impressing us with his civic insight.

So on to Chief Sellers. He gave most of the answers that one would expect, citing crime statistics elaborating on existing department policies. Nothing surprising or terribly revealing.

But here’s what struck me: I listened to the Chief of Police for an hour and a half, and not once did I catch a hint of the authoritarianism that tends to seep out of career law enforcement bureaucrats. He never implied that he “knew what’s best for the people”. His responses to controversial questions on marijuana dispensaries and homeless disturbances were telling – Sellers said he can only enforce the laws that the People enact, regardless of his personal feelings on the issues.

Sellers came across as genuinely amiable to policing methods that seek to reduce crime through community interaction, rather than relying purely on brute-force suppression and mindless “law and order” approaches that alienate law enforcement agencies from the people whom they are supposed to serve. Officers are encouraged to build relationships and find long-term solutions to crime problems, rather than just cycle junkies and gang bangers through our failing prison system.

I left feeling surprisingly satisfied with the police chief appointment that our city council made last year. Hopefully Sellers turns out to be “tough on crime” without being tough on the rest of us.

Who Else Took The School Union Endorsement?

Last week this blog criticized school board candidate Janny Meyer for announcing her acceptance of the endorsement of the Fullerton teachers’ union while simultaneously claiming to be a fiscal conservative. Shortly thereafter we had learned that Bev Berryman and Aaruni Thakur had also accepted union support, albeit much more quietly.

Aaruni Thakur

For Aaruni, the endorsement was a given. Being a union tool is practically a requirement for the modern Democrat politician. Who can fault a guy for latching onto the massive union political machine which has helped put so many Democrats into office? Well, I suppose Republicans could find that to be a cause for concern.

Beverly Berryman

Berryman’s acceptance, on the other hand, is much more disappointing.  She won her first school board campaign without any union support, so she certainly didn’t need it now that she is an incumbent. Saying “no” to this powerful special interest would have been the best way for her to preserve her independence.  She certainly has opened herself up to closer scrutiny on future votes.

On the bright side, Bev does have a history of taking stands on important issues that put her at odds with the union. She led the charge against the most recent attempt to launch a parcel tax on Fullerton voters. Bev also was the only school boarder who has repeatedly said no to imposing the expensive Apple laptop fees on parents throughout the entire One-to-One laptop fiasco.  And she has never been on the receiving end of union’s negotiating power as a government employee.

So that begs the question: Why did the union endorse her anyway?