ANAHEIM (CBSLA.com) – A staggering 87 percent of Anaheim police officers want Chief Raul Quezada removed from his position, the union announced Thursday.
The rank-and-file police officers in the Anaheim Police Association held a union vote asking Quezada — the city’s first Latino chief — to retire, resign or be removed as chief. The officers voted by a margin of 319 to 47 to give Quezada a “no-confidence” declaration, according to the union.
Union president Edgar Hampton said the vote was not taken “lightly,” and that the union tried to work on the issues with the chief, to no avail.
The union accused Quezada of “disregarding officer safety” by ordering his officers to remove “life-saving equipment” from their belts “because of its unappealing appearance.”
Union officials also said there has been a failure to hold some managers accountable and for “mishandling major incidents” such as a KKK rally that turned violent last year. Quezada is also accused of “demonstrating favoritism” by doling out choice assignments to officers without going through “his own selection process.”
Quezada argues the union has been spooked by reforms he has implemented as a response to the riots in 2012 following two deadly police-involved shootings over a July weekend.
“In 2012, following days of unrest, we embarked on an ambitious-but-necessary journey to rebuild community confidence, especially among residents of Anaheim’s working-class neighborhoods,” Quezada said.
He said he was “proud” of rebuilding “community trust,” and he noted the city has not seen any increases in crime as other cities have following laws aimed at reducing prison overcrowding.
“Cultural change is difficult and often requires tough decisions and new ideas that can be scary to police employees accustomed to doing their jobs a certain way,” Quezada said.
He noted Anaheim was the first in the “region” to have officers wear cameras on their uniforms, which “has led to less use of force, enhanced training and key evidence in false claims against us.”
“As you can imagine, our uptick in internal affairs investigations and disciplinary actions have not been embraced by the union,” the chief said.
Quezada speculated that “no confidence” votes may be “part of a new playbook some local police unions are using to attempt to strong-arm cities and police agencies” to oust “reform-minded police chiefs.”
Mike Lyster, a spokesman for the city, said officials were aware of the union’s stance.
“Under the chief’s leadership, the city has made great strides in community policing, being the first in Orange County to implement body-worn cameras, and in upholding high standards for those we serve,” Lyster said. “Anaheim is fortunate to have a police department that is a leader in public safety, and we look forward to addressing concerns as we continue to move the department and the city forward.”
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