An incident occurred in the Fullerton City Jail in late 2005/early 2006 and a complaint letter was sent to the Orange County Grand Jury. It asked for an investigation stating “if not you, who, if not now, when?”
We formed a special committee to investigate and ultimately publish the report, “Oversight of Orange County Law Enforcement Agencies: Resolving a Dichotomy!”
Our report cited the November 2000 publication “Police Accountability and Citizen Review” by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which stated: “Public concerns about racial profiling, excessive use of force, deliberate violations of sanctioned evidence handling procedures and corruption create mistrust. When events such as these take center stage, communities begin to question the integrity of their police agencies.”
The International Association of Chiefs of Police recognized the concerns of the communities served!
Our conclusions were presented to all Orange County Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs):
- Best practices guidelines: The Orange County municipal police departments should consider adopting or developing best practices guidelines appropriate for inclusion in LEAs’ goals/objectives. An example would be the publication of a best practice document as a self‐assessment guide to handling residents’ complaints.
- Near‐term, independent review of LEA policies, procedures, and compliance: The Orange County municipal police departments, in cooperation with the Orange County City Mayors, should consider contracting for a near‐term independent review of LEAs’ current policies, procedures, and compliance to provide current status as compared to best practices.
All LEAs were required to respond to these recommendations. The Fullerton City Mayor’s response dated September 20, 2006: “I do not see a need to implement this recommendation” for both recommendations. Regarding “Best practice guidelines” he goes on to say: “I believe the Police Department’s policies and procedures rise to the level of best practices. I further believe the regular and ongoing review of the Police Department’s policies, practices, and compliance as mention in the preceding paragraphs, safeguard the City from criminal or civil exposure.”
The Fullerton PD finally hired a consultant to review procedures after a homeless man, Kelly Thomas (April 5, 1974 – July 10, 2011) was killed by members of the Fullerton Police Department.
Our report was prescient. If our Police Department acted upon these recommendations the Kelly incident might not have occurred and we might be more prepared for today’s environment.
We stand behind our Police Department to protect and serve our community. We encourage you to provide our Department with the tools and training to result in “best practices.” We encourage you to back our men in blue. Publicly declare that you support them and ask our citizens to respond calmly and positively in tramatic situations.