Members of the union representing Anaheim police officers have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution of “no confidence” in Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada’s “leadership, management and actions.” Quezada, in a prepared statement, dismissed the vote as a “strong arm tactic” police unions are using against “reform-minded police chiefs who have yet to hit retirement age.”
Quezada has also filed a hostile work environment claim against the city; according to sources, he alleges top city staff turned rank-and-file police officers against him.
The Anaheim Police Association conducted the “no confidence” vote via e-mail between July 28 and August 7. 319 members – or 87% of active APA membership – voted in favor of the “no confidence” resolution, which included a call for Quezada to retire, step down or immediately be removed from his position. According to an APA press release, the “no confidence” survey was completed by 95% of the union’s 384 active members.
“We did not undertake a vote of no confidence lightly as we have diligently attempted this year and many previous to get items back on track,” said APA President Edgar Hampton. “This is not something you do to someone you work for; we respect the office, authority and chain of command. However, working for Chief Quezada has become near impossible and we are on a downward spiral.”
The APA detailed a number of complaints against Quezada, including:
- Disregarding officer safety by ordering the removal of life-saving equipment from officers’ belts because of its unappealing appearance
- Failing to hold his managers accountable for mishandling major incidents such as the February 2016 KKK rally, and other violent demonstrations
- Routinely demonstrating favoritism by bypassing his own selection process for prestigious assignments
- Displaying acts of retaliation by removing experienced and well-respected managers from their positions after learning they disagreed with his leadership of the department
- Failure to unite his management team.
The APA press release charges:
“Sadly, the Anaheim Police Department continues to endure the most dysfunctional management team in the history of the department. When asked for his plan to bring the department together at last week’s Training Auditorium Meeting, Chief Quezada took no responsibility and continued to blame others. Chief Quezada’s last attempt to repair the damage he has caused only provided clear and convincing evidence of his disconnect, poor leadership, bullying tactics and poor management of the department. There has been a hostile work environment for a long time in the department, and it is in a downward spiral. More items will only surface and it will only get worse for him and APA members unless he resigns, retires and/or is dismissed.
The overwhelming response of a vote of no confidence by APA members attests to his poor management and lack of leadership. Chief Quezada has clearly lost the trust of his employees. Instead of demoralizing the employees who protect the largest and key tourism city in Orange County, Chief Quezada should have been providing a healthy and non-hostile work environment for all of his employees. An organization cannot function properly in an environment like this and ultimately it is the chief of police who has to fix it.
We believe where there is smoke, there could be fire and believe there are more items associated with his management we have yet to learn about yet.”
Following is the full text of Chief Quezada’s response:
Statement from Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada
Unfortunately, Anaheim PD has not been immune to the issues facing police departments across the nation during these turbulent times. 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.
As Anaheim’s new and first Latino Chief of Police, my number one priority was – and remains – community engagement. We’ve worked hard to improve transparency and accountability, provide better and more compassionate service based on mutual respect and positively impact Anaheim’s at-risk youth. Although our work is never done, I’m proud of the community trust we’ve built, and I’m also proud that we’ve made these improvements without experiencing significant spikes in crime that other California cities faced following the passage of Propositions 47 and 57.
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. We were the first police department in the region to deploy body-worn cameras. Our investment has led to less use of force, enhanced training and key evidence in false claims against us. The cameras also provide important evidence following accusations of misconduct, which, fortunately, are rare in Anaheim. We also use the cameras to hold officers accountable when mistakes inevitably occur. As you might imagine, our uptick in internal affairs investigations and disciplinary actions have not been embraced by the union.
Despite the union vote, I continue to have confidence in the men and women of APD. I can’t help but question whether no confidence votes against reform-minded police chiefs who have yet to hit retirement age are part of a new playbook some local police unions are using to attempt to strong arm cities and police agencies.
I will continue to listen to the union, police and city employees, the residents and visitors we serve, Anaheim’s Public Safety Board, the Chief’s Advisory Board, Chief’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, the City Council, the Youth Advisory Board, the business community — and anybody else who shares my goals of propelling us toward becoming the best police department we can possibly be while enhancing the lives of Anaheim residents
Finally, I would like to thank the many community members who’ve expressed their support for our positive changes. Your continued partnership is critical to our success. I invite you to visit our website or follow our social media to learn more about our programs aimed at engaging our community.
City of Anaheim spokesman Michael Lyster provided this statement regarding the APA “no confidence” vote:
“We are aware of the Anaheim Police Association’s vote and respect that right. 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. 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. “