The current strife gripping the Huntington Beach Police Department continues unabated as of this writing.
We can see the issue from both sides of the coin and it’s certainly not a simple matter to sort out.
Police Chief Rob Handy is at odds with the rank and file members of the Huntington Beach Police force, represented by their union, the HBPOA and the smaller HBPMA, consisting of management level officers.
HBPOA & HBPMA delivered a vote of “No Confidence” in Rob Handy in August of 2017.
Outside perception is that Handy is refusing to go along with the usual defective culture of the “brotherhood” of sworn ( vs. “Civilian”) citizens.
Police Departments have a military command structure. Loss of faith in the man at the top can be demoralizing and have a negative impact on job satisfaction.
It would be no different than serving in the army under an ineffective and non supportive General.
But the reasons for the POA dissatisfaction are things that should raise concern.
Handy wants to do away with or limit the extent of, the good old boy closed culture of a Police Department.
We applaud this. Cops get away with all kinds of stuff that the “Civilians” would never dream of and utilize the “Blue Wall of Silence” to hide activity and misdeeds.
Handy wants the rank and file to wear Body Cams.
This will severely limit the ability of street cops to engage in rogue behavior, such as retaliatory beat-downs in secluded locations and overtly hostile and aggressive behavior.
The Cam doesn’t lie.
A body cam could be instrumental in saving the City millions in damages in any lawsuit regarding excessive force.
It can also help identify the killer in the event that a cop is shot and killed working solo. We applaud the mandated use of body cams.
Handy is also open to the idea of bringing in first year recruits from the academy and starting them on a different lower pension tier, vs. bringing in a cop with 5 years experience from another agency, one with a calPERS pension already vested and set in place at the existing high levels.
HBPOA claims this will result in problems because they will be forced to work with inexperienced officers.
Gotta start somewhere…
While we support Handy on these initiatives, we oppose his weak stance on reacting to the Homeless issue and his creation of a De-facto sanctuary city, through his refusal to cooperate with ICE on immigration issues.
In an ideal world, Handy would stop coddling the homeless and illegal immigrants, move to bolster morale in his department by changing the “Rules of engagement” and allow a little more “old school” HBPD style enforcement, make a convincing argument for body cams and discipline to the men and women under his charge and find a middle ground on the remaining issues.
In the end, even though he enjoys support from a majority of the Council, we feel that Handy should consider stepping aside in order to end the turmoil.
In Football, a coach the fields a losing team year after year, is quickly replaced.
The HBPOA and HBPMA will no doubt move to support and field candidates sympathetic to their cause.
This includes former cop, Billy O’Connell, who recently carried their water at City Council Meetings, and Former Mayor Jim Katapodis, should he decide to run in this cycle.
Sitting Councilwoman Jill Hardy can always be counted on by the HBPOA to concede whatever it is they want. After all, it’s other peoples money.
Any successful Police Union backed candidate will have Hardy as an ally.
We recommend voting against any candidate that accepts campaign funds from any City Employee Union.
There needs to be a separation between our representatives on the council and those who stand to benefit from any decisions they make regarding pay and benefits.
In other news, rumor has it that the HBPOA and HBPMA are also upset with City Attorney Michael Gates and are considering backing a challenger to Gates in the coming cycle.