Anaheim Investigator

On Pins & Needles: Retiring Police Chief Told Officials Anaheim Could Face ‘More Civil Unrest’

CAM00174ii

Retiring Anaheim Police Chief John Welter warned public officials back in May he was “very concerned” high tensions between cops and residents in Leatrice-Wakefield could spark “more civil unrest.”

By DUANE ROBERTS
Editor & Publisher

According to copies of several emails the Anaheim Investigator obtained through a California Public Records Act request, retiring Anaheim Police Chief John Welter told the Mayor and City Council back in May he was “very concerned” escalating tensions between cops and residents in the Leatrice-Wakefield neighborhood, a working-class Mexican community located about one mile Southeast of the Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks, could lead to a confrontation where somebody “will eventually cross the line and get arrested,” sparking “more civil unrest.”

All of the emails in question, which were sent to Susan Ray, an administrator for the Office of the Mayor and City Council, on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, touch upon a “major event” which occurred in that neighborhood the prior evening where the Anaheim Police Department deployed 12 patrol units, including two Sergeants and the Watch Commander, to handle a crowd “watching and yelling” at officers responding to a “disturbance” call. This incident was considered so serious the city activated its “Emergency Virtual Operations Center,” something usually done when a natural disaster, plane crash, or act of terrorism occurs.

In an email Chief Welter shot off about the incident the very next day, he contemptuously dismissed the crowd as being a “group of criminal residents” who feel “they have the right and power to drive the police from neighborhoods.” He complained “[t]hese incidence [sic] of community interference and threats to police have been going on for months now. I predict that someone will eventually cross the line and get arrested. Depending on who, when and where that arrest occurs, it will very likely cause more civil unrest.” In closing, he added: “These actions will only get worse as the criminal element gain power.”

The text of Welter’s email is as follows:

Good afternoon, At the bottom of this email is information on police/community activities that has me very concerned. I covered this situation at our monthly Department Head meeting on May 1. These incidence [sic] of community interference and threats to police have been going on for months now. I predict that someone will eventually cross the line and get arrested. Depending on who, when and where that arrest occurs, it will very likely cause more civil unrest.

I’m bringing this to your attention because of the increasing examples of disrespect and insults to others by many in Anaheim. When a group of criminal residents feels as though they have the right and power to drive the police from neighborhoods, we will have a very difficult time protecting the law abiding residents from escalating violence.

There have been instances of resident interference that prevented officers from engaging in routine activities like impounding abandoned or stolen cars. On one occasion, the resident interference provided an opportunity for a potential criminal suspect to evade police detainment during an investigation.

These actions will only get worse as the criminal element gain power. The law abiding residents will be the true losers in the end. Police will be made to be the ‘murderers’, ‘assassins’, and ‘criminals.’ And certain members of our community will use all of this as a platform to drive their individual agendas.

Attached to Welter’s email was several messages he exchanged with Captain Jarret Young earlier that same day. At 7:38 a.m., the Captain blasted out an email to all high-ranking members of the Anaheim Police Department offering them a brief summary of what transpired in the Leatrice-Wakefield neighborhood the night before. The brouhaha first began when “[o]fficers were handling a call in the alley of Wakefield,” typed Young. It was there, he said, that they encountered “subject on a scooter or bike” who “began yelling and resisting” when they “attempted to detain” him:

FYI

Ref this call … Lt Hale called me last night. Officers were handling a call in the alley of Wakefield when they were confront [sic] by a 415 (Disturbance) subject on a scooter or bike. When the officers attempted to detain the 415 subject he began yelling and resisting. Several residents came out to the alley and a crowd gathered. Most of the crowd was anti-police. Officers called for code 3 assistance. [REDACTED] responded to the help call along with several other units.

The mother and family of Martin Hernandez were some of the people in the crowd. When they saw [REDACTED] they focused their attention on him.

Lt Hale got [REDACTED] out of there and attempted to calm down the family/crowd.

I think there was only one arrest made.

I sent a message to Lt. Trapp to have the CPT [Community Policing Team] officers to reach out to their contacts in the neighborhood today and make sure they correct any misinformation about what happened.

I will pull the call and the reports when I get in later this morning.

At around 8:58 a.m., Welter asked:

What time was this? Approximately [h]ow many cops and residents?

Young later replied:

The time was about 2250 hrs…. After the call for assistance 12 units total went on-scene. This includes two sergeants and the WC. [Watch Commander]

According to the report about 60 residents were out watching and yelling at the officers.

In the first email cited above, the City of Anaheim redacted the name of the officer whom Young stated was hurriedly whisked out of the Leatrice-Wakefield neighborhood by Lieutenant Frank Hale, claiming various provisions of the California Public Records Act enabled them to withhold information about his identity. But the Anaheim Investigator has subsequently spoken to a witness who was present in the back alley at the time the incident occurred, and they have alleged the officer was Dan Hurtado, a policeman who shot and killed Martin Angel Hernandez, a 21-year old resident of that community, on Tuesday, March 6, 2012.

The aforementioned correspondence offers proof of something the Anaheim Investigator has always suspected but was unable to confirm up until now: that Anna Drive was only one of many working-class Mexican communities where tensions between cops and residents had been running high for months on end. In Leatrice-Wakefield, hostility toward the police never simmered down after Hernandez‘ death. If anything, it intensified as local residents continued organizing marches, vigils, and protests. The police have literally been on pins and needles in these neighborhoods; they have had to proceed very cautiously to avoid stirring up more anger.

In the aftermath of a week of “civil unrest” that had roiled the City of Anaheim in late July 2012, Leatrice-Wakefield was specifically identified by the Anaheim Police Department as one of ten neighborhoods in Central and South Anaheim that were considered to be “hot zones.” According to a copy of a highly confidential 43-page “Incident Action Plan” that was leaked to the public via the internet, police officers assigned to patrol this community one weekend were ordered by their superiors to adhere to “civil unrest protocols” at all times, donning “all appropriate PPE [Personal Protective Equipment]” as needed.

In respect to Welter’s remarks about “criminal residents,” the Anaheim Investigator doesn’t lend much credence to them. Although we can’t dismiss the possibility persons engaged in illegal activities might invoke the cry of “police brutality” as a ploy to discourage cops from investigating their wrongdoing, it is our opinion his comments reflect those of a man bitter his last year as Anaheim’s top lawman was sullied by intense criticism. But this was a partly a product of his own doing: had Welter not been so lackadaisical toward the spate of fatal officer-involved shootings that occurred under his watch, things might have turned out differently.

[Below are electronic reproductions of some of the documents referred to in this article. Click on them to enlarge.] 

John Welter to City Council Re EVOC Advisory 1 of 3

John Welter to City Council Re: Advisory, Wednesday, May 1, 2013 (1 of 3)

John Welter to City Council Re EVOC Advisory 2 of 3

John Welter to City Council Re: Advisory, Wednesday, May 1, 2013 (3 of 3)

John Welter to City Council Re EVOC Advisory 3 of 3

John Welter to City Council Re: Advisory, Wednesday, May 1, 2013 (3 of 3)

 

Phony As A Three Dollar Bill: How The City Of Anaheim Will Create A Fake Police Oversight Committee

OIR Group IIAfter months of foot-dragging, city officials decided to outsource their police oversight committee to the Office of Independent Review, already a paid contractor for the Anaheim Police Department.

By DUANE ROBERTS
Editor & Publisher

As the Anaheim Investigator reported last month, the Tuesday, June 18th vote by Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait and the rest of the City Council to unanimously approve an amended agreement with the Office of Independent Reviewa Los Angeles-based law firm run by Michael Gennaco, to drastically “expand the scope of services” it offers the city, signaled the death knell for any genuine police oversight in this town. The 5-0 vote, which was done quietly and without much discussion, essentially paved the way to make OIR a de facto “oversight body” for the Anaheim Police Department.

Although Tait told the Anaheim Investigator he “still want[s] a civilian review commission,” it is our opinion that if the mayor really supported police accountability, his decision to vote in favor of the amended agreement at the June 18th meeting sent a mixed message. All of the evidence we’ve collected so far suggests Gennaco’s law firm now lies at the foundation–or already is–the “oversight body” the City of Anaheim has been talking about forming. Any discussion about creating a “commission” now not only is too little, too late, but a smokescreen to divert attention away from the fact the fix is in.

In respect to evidence backing this claim, all one needs to do is look at what is going on in a neighboring city. Last May, the Anaheim Investigator filed a California Public Records Act request with the Fullerton Police Department and unearthed an email attachment Gennaco sent to Police Chief Dan Hughes on Wednesday, January 30th, 2013. In it, Gennaco proposed his law firm become the “outside independent oversight entity” for that city’s law enforcement agency. The language he uses is similar to text contained in letters sent to Anaheim City Attorneys in 2009 and April of this year

It appears one major difference between what was outlined in the attachment Gennaco sent to Hughes in late January and the text of those letters is the language used to describe his law firm’s services. The City of Anaheim has embarked on a strategy of building its “oversight body” in a piecemeal, incremental fashion. By keeping quiet about what it has been doing and omitting language describing OIR as an “outside independent oversight entity,” the council swiftly made it an “oversight body” right beneath everybody’s noses. The purpose of this: to keep residents who favor real police oversight in the dark so as not to arouse opposition.

Further proof of the key role OIR is playing in this matter can be found in the brief dialogue that took place at the June 18th meeting between Tait and then-Interim City Manager Marcie Edwards. When Tait told Edwards the vote on the amended agreement provided him with “an opportunity to bring up the idea of a citizen review commission that we talked about several months ago,” she responded by making it perfectly clear that OIR–not city staff–will be making recommendations about this in a report it is expected to submit to the Anaheim City Council “maybe a month to six weeks from now.”

The exchange was as follows:

TAIT: Item 14, I pulled that. This is … umm … city attorney approve the first amendment to agreement with Michael Gennaco, etc., increasing the not to exceed contract to the amount of $85,000 extending the scope of attorney services. This is Office of Independent Review. Umm … I support this. It’s a good … it gives me an opportunity to bring up the idea of a citizen review commission that we talked about several months ago. So I’d like to … I know the City Manager is interim, but I’d like to encourage the city to move forward with its recommendation … umm …  soon. So … Madame City Manager?

EDWARDS: Thank you sir. Umm …  one of the items that we have been waiting on, just for your information, is a report from the OIR that has recommendations … that is going to contain recommendations that ultimately we’ll be able to release publicly. I asked informally as to when they thought that might be produced and I was given an estimate of maybe a month to six weeks from now. So I wanted to share that with you.

TAIT: Very good.

At this time, the Anaheim Investigator cannot predict what kinds of recommendations OIR will present in the future. But what we do know, however, is when Gennaco attended a Fullerton City Council study session earlier this year to deliver a presentation about “oversight bodies,” he downplayed “citizen review commissions” in favor of the “auditor model” of  police oversight–a service his own law firm offers. Nevertheless, even if he recommends that a “commission” be created, we suspect it will be rigged to be weak, toothless, and ineffective. Why? Because the groundwork to have the city control it through OIR has been established.

First, the text of the letter Gennaco sent to then-Interim City Attorney Michael Houston on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 emphasizes that the latter’s office–not OIR–will make the final determination of which “critical incident cases” involving the Anaheim Police Department are “reviewed” by that law firm. So if a “citizen review commission” is eventually formed–with OIR running it–it will only be allowed to look into those cases the City Attorney wants them to examine and nothing more. That means the “commission” won’t be permitted to investigate any matters on its own, effectively tying its hands.

Second, the City of Anaheim has the power to determine who OIR releases its information to, placing it in a position to withhold information from a “citizen review commission.” Earlier this year, the Anaheim Investigator obtained a copy of the original agreement that then-City Attorney Cristina Talley negotiated with Gennaco’s law firm in 2009. This agreement, which was not altered significantly by the recently amended agreement, makes it perfectly clear that OIR is a law firm hired by the city to defend its interests and that all of its work is considered “confidential attorney-client communications and attorney work-product material”:

[A]ll internal observations, determinations, notes or other applicable material made by OIR Group in the performance of this Agreement are and shall be considered confidential attorney-client communications and attorney work-product material and subject to the appropriate claims of privilege. With the exception of any final public reports, all communications and reports to the City, including the City Attorney and the Anaheim Police Department, shall be made or submitted on a confidential basis. OIR Group agrees that no documents prepared or assembled by it under this Agreement shall be made available to any individual or organization without prior written approval of the City, unless required by law.

Third, OIR not only has no authority whatsoever to conduct independent investigations into complaints against alleged police misconduct, but it doesn’t have any subpoena power to compel witnesses to testify or produce documents. All it does is have its staff of highly paid attorneys “audit” or review case files prepared by the cops themselves to determine if an officer’s actions were in compliance with the law. That being said, a “citizen review commission” dependent on this law firm for information would spend much of its time reading reports containing “facts” Gennaco’s attorneys gleaned from police files.

And finally, OIR is funded by the Anaheim Police Department. Financial records the Anaheim Investigator obtained in a California Public Records Act request filed back in March show they have received $24,510 from them since 2008. Multiple invoices submitted by this law firm have scribbled notations and markings which make it clear they are funded out of the police budget, not the city’s general fund. Whereas we don’t feel Gennaco’s law firm is as deeply compromised by this relationship as OC Human Relations is, the fact an “oversight body” is accepting money from a law enforcement agency it oversees is problematic.

In conclusion, the June 18th vote was a pivotal moment in the so-called “debate” that has been taking place in Anaheim over the creation of a police oversight committee. After months of foot-dragging, city officials finally decided to outsource it to OIR, already a paid contractor for the Anaheim Police Department. This makes a mockery of their claim of wanting “independent” police oversight. That Kerry Condon, president of the Anaheim Police Association, has repeatedly made statements expressing unwavering support for this type of “oversight body” shows how weak it really is.

And if the Anaheim Investigator is correct in its analysis, any “citizen review commission” created now will be as phony as a three dollar bill. But we doubt such a “commission” will ever come into existence. We suspect that when this matter comes back to council, there will be a round of political kabuki theater: Kris Murray, along with her colleagues, will point out we don’t need one because we have OIR; and Tait, although he’ll argue in favor of  it, will be on the “losing” side. Although most people that night will only see a lopsided 4-1 vote against it, few will understand that on June 18th, in a 5-0 vote, both Murray and Tait voted to kill it, by backing OIR.

[Below are electronic reproductions of some of the documents referred to in this article. Click on them to enlarge.] 

Michael Gennaco Email to Dan Hughes 1 of 2

Gennaco to Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes, Wednesday, January 30, 2013 (1 of 2)

Michael Gennaco Email to Dan Hughes 2 of 2

Gennaco to Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes, Wednesday, January 30, 2013  (2 of 2) 

Letter 2009 agreement 1 of 2

Gennaco to Anaheim City Attorney Talley, August 16, 2009 (1 of 2)

Letter 2009 agreement 2 of 2

Gennaco to Anaheim City Attorney Talley, August 16, 2009 (2 of 2) 

Gennaco to Houston Letter 1 of 1

Gennaco to then-Interim Anaheim City Attorney Houston, April 24, 2013 (1 of 1) 

OIR 2009 agreement 1 of 9

OIR Group agreement with Anaheim, August 25, 2009, Page 1 (1 of 3)

OIR 2009 agreement 6 of 9

OIR Group agreement with Anaheim, August 25, 2009, Page 6 (2 of 3)

OIR 2009 agreement 7 of 9

OIR Group agreement with Anaheim, August 25, 2009, Page 7 (3 of 3)

UPDATE: Death Knell for Genuine Police Oversight in Anaheim: Council Boosts Office of Independent Review

Anaheim Council Tait

Last week, Mayor Tom Tait, along with the rest of the Anaheim City Council, voted for an “amended agreement” with the Office of Independent Review which made it a de facto police “oversight body.”

By DUANE ROBERTS
Editor & Publisher

At the Tuesday, June 18th meeting of the Anaheim City Council, Mayor Tom Tait, along with other members of that body, voted unanimously to approve an amended agreement with the Office of Independent Review, a Los Angeles-based law firm run by Michael Gennaco, to drastically expand the scope of services it provides the City of Anaheim. The 5-0 vote, which was done quietly and without much discussion, essentially paved the way to make it a de facto “oversight body” for the Anaheim Police Department.

But last week’s decision, however, was not a victory for genuine police oversight within this city; it signaled its death knell. If anything, it was a major boost for Kerry Condon, president of the Anaheim Police Association. Condon, who has repeatedly blasted the idea of establishing an independent police oversight committee run by residents, has never been critical of Gennaco’s law firm. And despite being present at the last council meeting, he raised no objections as Tait swiftly moved to have this item voted upon by his colleagues.

It should be no surprise to anyone Condon said nary a word about this matter given the Office of Independent Review already works hand-in-glove with the Anaheim Police Department. Financial records the Anaheim Investigator obtained from the City of Anaheim in a California Public Records Act request filed back in March show they have received $24,510 from them since 2008. Multiple invoices submitted by this law firm have scribbled notations and markings which make it clear they are funded out of the police budget, not the city’s general fund.

Additionally, the Office of Independent Review is really not an “oversight body” at all. Not only does it have no authority to conduct independent investigations into complaints against alleged police misconduct, but it has no power to compel witnesses to testify or produce documents. All it does is have its staff of highly paid attorneys “audit” or review case files prepared by the police themselves to determine if an officer’s actions were in compliance with the law; it also offers recommendations how they can improve their performance.

In a letter Gennaco sent to Michael Houston, then-Interim City Attorney, on April 24th, he listed in detail the kind of “audits” his law firm will do under the amended agreement:

1. Review all critical incident cases (officer-involved shootings, and in-custody deaths) that were closed after January 1,2010 and any critical incidents that have occurred to date.

2. Review additional officer-involved shootings outside this time frame and for which representatives of the Anaheim community have raised concerns. Prepare a report to the City Attorney, as well as a written public report, regarding the results of our review.

3. On an annual basis, or on such other time schedule as requested by the City Attorney, review all critical incident cases that have been closed in that year and prepare reports as requested by the City Attorney.

4. Perform any additional critical incident reviews or tasks requested in writing by the City Attorney.

The Anaheim Investigator is intrigued with the strategy the City of Anaheim is using to create this “oversight body.” Rather than put everything out on the table all at once, they’ve decided to do it gradually, in a piecemeal fashion. They are also being very quiet about what they say in public. It is our opinion this is being done with the intent of minimizing criticism from residents who favor genuine police oversight, not oppose it. For example, if such persons had been aware this item was on last week’s agenda, they might have rallied against it, especially had they known what it would really do. 

Now that the amended agreement with the Office of Independent Review has been approved, the next step is to add a “committee component” to give it “legitimacy.” At the meeting, Marcie Edwards, Interim City Manager, stated Gennaco is expected to report back to council about this issue in a few weeks. Knowing what we know about the Police Chief’s advisory board, we suspect any committee they create will be stacked with pro-police political appointees. And they would only meet to read reports Gennaco’s attorneys prepared for them using information obtained from police files.

Curious to learn the reason why Tait voted in favor of this item, the Anaheim Investigator made multiple attempts to seek public comment from him. Not only did we leave messages on the voice-mail of his private cellphone, but we also contacted his Executive Assistant at Tait & Associates, Inc., and asked her to have him return our calls. We also sent to several messages to all of his Facebook accounts and business emails. So far, despite our sincere efforts to try to get a hold of him, Tait has failed to respond to any of our inquiries.

[UPDATE as of Wednesday, June 26th at 11:02 p.m.]

After five days of unsuccessfully trying to reach Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait via email and telephone, he finally contacted the Anaheim Investigator in a call early Wednesday morning. Although other commitments prevented Tait from talking with us at length, he re-affirmed his support for a police oversight committee run by residents. “I still want a civilian review commission,” he said. He further emphasized that at the Tuesday, June 18th city council meeting, he requested city staff report back to him about this issue at a later date.

In respect to concerns we had about his vote approving the amended agreement with the Office of Independent of ReviewTait characterized it as an “extension” of a pre-existing arrangement the City of Anaheim has had with this law firm since 2008. Without getting into a squabble over word meanings, we do agree that it could be labeled as such. But City Attorney Michael Houston made it clear in his staff report on the matter that this agreement just doesn’t “extend,” but will “expand the scope of services” this entity offers to the city.

[Below are electronic reproductions of some of the documents referred to in this article. Click on them to enlarge.] 

APD disburse OIR 1 of 2

APD Disbursements to Office of Independent Review 1/06-3/13 (1 of 2)

APD disburse OIR 2 of 2

APD Disbursements to Office of Independent Review 1/06-3/13 (2 of 2)

OIR Group Invoice 09-16

Office of Independent Review, Invoice #APD-1/09-16, 5/09-6/09 (1 of 2)

OIR Group Invoice 09-17

Office of Independent Review, Invoice #APD-1/09-17, 5/09-6/09 (2 of 2)

OIR Group Invoice 09-27

Office of Independent Review, Invoice #APD-1/09-27, 1/10-3/10 (1 of 1)

OIR Group Invoice 09-31

Office of Independent Review, Invoice #APD-1/09-31, 9/10-10/10 (1 of 1)

A Conflict of Interest: Cop-Funded OC Human Relations Wanted to Run Police Oversight Committees

Anaheim Police Human Relations Patch

Email reveals that Rusty Kennedy, Executive Director of OC Human Relations, quietly lobbied Anaheim Police Chief John Welter for a chance to run that city’s proposed police oversight committee.

By DUANE ROBERTS
Editor & Publisher

According to an email the Anaheim Investigator obtained from the City of Anaheim through a California Public Records Act request, Rusty Kennedy, Executive Director of OC Human Relations, quietly lobbied police chiefs in Anaheim and Fullerton last year to have his county-sanctioned non-profit develop “some type of Civilian Review Board (or alternative) process” that it could operate “in addition to our Police Community Reconciliation and Crisis Assistance programs on contract” with both law enforcement agencies.

Kennedy’s pitch to run proposed police oversight committees was included in a message sent to Fullerton City Manager Joe Felz, then acting-Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes, and Anaheim Police Chief John Welter on Tuesday, October 2, 2012. In it, Kennedy notified them that he was withdrawing an earlier plea that they help OC Human Relations pay registration fees for an upcoming conference being organized by the National Association of Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement.

The text of Kennedy’s email is as follows:

John, Dan and Joe

Please disregard my request for assistance with registration. We went ahead and paid registration for this important conference. Alison Edwards, Deputy Director, and member of the APD Chief’s Advisory, and James Armendaris, Police Community Reconciliation Coordinator and Tustin Chief’s Advisory Committee member will be attending from OC Human Relations.

I am envisioning developing some type of Civilian Review Board (or alternative) process that we could offer in addition to our Police Community Reconciliation and Crisis Assistance Programs on contract with Fullerton and/or Anaheim, IF [sic] you are interested going forward.

rusty

A few minutes after receiving Kennedy’s email, Chief Welter responded, copying his reply to Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait and City Manager Bob Wingenroth:

Thanks Rusty. I really can’t say what I’m interested in. The Mayor has come out in the media on wanting a CRB without conferring with me. I have no idea who he is talking to or working with on this issue.

I wanted to wait until I attend this conference on citizen oversight before discussing the need and type of CRB with others.

The existence of this email is quite revealing not only because it suggests Kennedy was pressuring city officials to have OC Human Relations run their proposed police oversight committees, but it completely contradicts a claim he made in a “fact sheet” disseminated to Los Amigos of Orange County on March 22nd. At the time, Kennedy wrote his non-profit had only “offered to consult with city and police and community on the creation of this type of organization,” and nothing more–an outright lie.

In addition, this email, along with other documents in the possession of the Anaheim Investigator, strongly hint what Welter and Wingenroth were looking for in the “type” of police oversight committee they sought for the City of Anaheim: a weak, ineffective body that would do little, if anything, to keep abusive police officers in check. That both men–specifically Wingenroth–wanted Kennedy’s non-profit, a paid contractor for the Anaheim Police Department, to be involved, is somewhat indicative of that.

For example, as we reported back in March:

Financial records from the City of Anaheim show that since July 2006, OC Human Relations has received $67,955 from the Anaheim Police Department. Of that amount, $22,251, or 33% of the entire total, was disbursed between November 2011 and September 2012 alone. Several invoices and check request forms show even the monies the city uses to pay yearly dues to OC Human Relations comes out of the police budget, not the general fund. All payments were approved by Welter.

In April, the Anaheim Investigator also published an eye-opening email which exposed the very close ties that existed between Welter and Kennedy, pointing out the fact that in November 2012, the latter personally invited the Police Chief to attend a “special reception” at the home of a wealthy Laguna Beach donor who funnels tens of thousands of dollars each year into OC Human Relations.

Given there is no lack of evidence showing OC Human Relations is financially dependent on support from law enforcement to do it’s “work”–a clear conflict of interest that Kennedy repeatedly fails to disclose in his dealings with the general public–how can it be expected to be fair and impartial in handling complaints about police misconduct if it is assigned the task of operating a police oversight committee?

The untrustworthiness of OC Human Relations has already been well-documented in the case of Anna Drive, where Kennedy inappropriately forwarded information gleaned from area residents to the Anaheim Police Department without their permission. Mediator ethics dictate that any sharing of information, even if it isn’t “confidential,” must be done with the consent of the affected parties.

At this time, it is unclear as to what’s going on with the proposed police oversight committee here in Anaheim. Recently, there has been a change of leadership in city government. Welter and Wingenroth, both strong allies of Kennedy, have since retired or moved onAlthough it’s premature to say OC Human Relations has “dropped the ball” on this matter, the Anaheim Investigator will continue to closely monitor the latest developments.

[Below is an electronic reproduction of the email referred to in this article.]

OC Human Relations Re Civilian Police Review Conference 10-2-12

Email to Felz, Hughes, and Welter from Kennedy re: “Civilian Review Police Conference,” Tuesday, October 2, 2012 (1 of 1)

Partners In Power: Kennedy Had Anaheim Police Chief Speak At Home Of Wealthy Laguna Beach Donor

Swayne Family Residence Google Maps

Last November, Rusty Kennedy, Executive Director of OC Human Relations, had Anaheim Police Chief John Welter speak about their “partnership” at the home of a wealthy Laguna Beach donor.

By DUANE ROBERTS
Editor & Publisher

In an eye-opening email the Anaheim Investigator has obtained from the City of Anaheim through a recent California Public Records Act request, Rusty Kennedy, Executive Director of OC Human Relations, had Anaheim Police Chief John Welter attend a “special reception” in Laguna Beach last November to talk about their “partnership” in pacifying angry Anna Drive and Ponderosa Park residents in the aftermath of several fatal officer-involved shootings.

Although it is not unusual for Chief Welter to be invited to speak at different events outside of the city, further research has revealed this “special reception,” organized under the auspices of OC Human Relations Community Partners, an elite group of donors who contribute $1,000 or more each year to OC Human Relations, was held at the residence of a multi-millionaire who funnels tens of thousands of dollars each year into Kennedy’s non-profit.

The email in question, entitled “Chief’s Schedule Today” and dated Thursday, November 15, 2012, was sent by Kennedy to Cindy Hernandez, an Executive Secretary who works out of the Office of the Police Chief. Marked “high” priority, he requested she “re-confirm that John could get to this event in Laguna Beach at 5:30 p.m.,” emphasizing “its a very important event.” For clarification, he re-posted text from an email sent to Welter earlier in the day.

Kennedy wrote as follows:

John

Just a quick note to remind you that you are speaking at a special reception for OC Human Relations Community Partners today at 5:30pm in Laguna Beach.

What we were hoping you would do is speak for about 5 to 10 minutes about our partnership, with a focus on the Ponderosa Park Forum, Civil Unrest Support, as well as the importance of the work we have done together to build trust through the years, that made you feel comfortable calling on us, and helped us know how to apply our expertise in a collaborative way.

Chief’s Advisory, Youth Serving Organizations Convening, Police/Community Reconciliation Program, Hate Crime response, pre-shift briefings, community relations crisis consultation, etc.

In closing, Kennedy included his cellphone number and that of Alison Edwards, Deputy Director for OC Human Relations. He mentioned “Keith’s house” in Laguna Beach as being the location where the “special reception” would be held, giving its address. The City of Anaheim, however, redacted both numbers and the address of “Keith’s house,” citing provisions in the California Public Records Act which exempt the disclosure of confidential personal information.

Last week, the Anaheim Investigator attempted to contact Robert Dunn, Public Information Officer for the Anaheim Police Department, via email and telephone to inquire about the location of “Keith’s house” and seek additional comment on the Nov. 15th email. But as of publication date, he has yet to respond. Calls made to the Office of the Police Chief were met with a response of “I can’t comment on this” and were referred to the City Clerk, who had no knowledge of the matter.

Nevertheless, the Anaheim Investigator has confirmed that “Keith’s house” was the residence of Keith Swayne, the retired CEO of Case Swayne Co., a major developer and processor of specialty sauces and seasonings that was sold to Best Foods/Unilever for $185 million in 1999. Property tax records available from the Orange County Treasurer/Tax Collector show his swanky Laguna Beach home, built in 1916, currently has an assessed value of $2,626,382.

According to a person who attended the Nov. 15th event,  Swayne brought together well-heeled friends interested in learning more about OC Human Relations and how they can support its work. Speakers not only included Kennedy and Welter, but Dr. Jerome Hunter, the former Chancellor of the North Orange County Community College District, and Dr. Gurpreet Singh Ahuja, a Pediatric Surgeon at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County.

Swayne is a longtime member of the OC Human Relations Community Partners Board. Both he and his wife Judith have been major donors to OC Human Relations, contributing at least $130,000 to that non-profit since 2004. In their 2011-2012 annual report, the Swayne’s are recognized as “Platinum Donors” who gave between $10,000 and $24,999 that year. Several earlier annual reports state they have given larger amounts in the past.

The Swayne’s are also founders of The Keith and Judy Swayne Foundation (aka, Swayne Family Foundation), which has given thousands of dollars to OC Human Relations and other non-profits in California and Hawaii since its inception. The latest publicly available Form 990-PF the foundation filed with the Internal Revenue Service states it has $3,792,747 in assets, mostly consisting of blue chip stocks donated by the Swayne family.

The website for the Swayne Family Foundation reports Kennedy was appointed to its advisory board in 2011. Additionally, the foundation has disbursed funds to local non-profit organizations here in Orange County that have close links to himFor example, Kennedy serves on the board of the Orange County Congregation Community Organization, a non-profit that has received thousands of dollars from that foundation over the past couple of years.

Kennedy is also tied, albeit indirectly, to Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development through board member Amin David, founder of Los Amigos of Orange County and a former Chair of OC Human Relations. David has been a close friend of “Rusty” since the early 1980s. Several 990-PF forms from the Swayne Family Foundation available online show OCCORD received $10,000 from them in 2009 and $15,000 in 2011

The Anaheim Investigator has also learned Kennedy is one of the highest paid Executive Directors of any non-profit organization based in Orange County. The latest Form 990 filed by OC Human Relations reports he earns $97,120 a year for only 20 hours a week of work. In comparison, Deborah Phares of OCCCO works 50 hours a week and is paid $65,834 per year (according to a 2010 filing), whereas Eric Altman of OCCORD, who puts in the same amount of time, makes $71,058.

The Nov. 15th email uncovered by the Anaheim Investigator obliterates any pretense OC Human Relations is a “neutral third party” that can be trusted to be fair and impartial in matters pertaining to law enforcement. That Kennedy trotted out Welter to speak at the home of multi-millionaire who funnels thousands of dollars into his non-profit–thus lining his own pockets in the process–is compelling evidence he has a financial stake in aligning himself with the interests of the powerful.

As mentioned last month, all of the emails and documents being reviewed at the time suggested Kennedy was wholly obsessed in demonstrating to Welter how useful OC Human Relations was in pacifying Anna Drive residents who were angry–angry at being shot and abused by the cops. Back then it was perceived Kennedy was merely being a lapdog for law enforcement. But now, with the Nov. 15th email in our possession, its clear both men are equals; they are partners in power.

Under Kennedy’s tutelage, OC Human Relations has been transformed from an organization which in the past offered some kind of recourse to the oppressed, to one that now aides and abets the oppressor–and is rewarded handsomely in return. And it’s not just a proxy for the Anaheim Police Department. It’s an apparatus funded by white political and business elites countywide who expect it to help keep Orange County’s darker-skinned rabble in their place during a crisis.

The Nov. 15th email offers compelling proof of this. After all, it details a real-life scenario where the white Executive Director of OC Human Relations and a white Anaheim Police Chief traveled to the home of a white Laguna Beach multi-millionaire who invited his white friends over and had them listen to these men pat one another on the back about “partnering” to pacify brown people in Anaheim angered at being mistreated by the police. It can’t get any clearer than that now, can it?

[Below are electronic reproductions of documents referred to in this article.]

Email to Welter from Kennedy November 15, 2012

Email to Welter from Kennedy re: “Special Reception” in Laguna Beach, Thursday, November 15, 2012 (1 of 1)

990 Form 2011 Filed by OC Human Relations Rusty Kennedy's Compensation

Rusty Kennedy’s Compensation, Page 7 of Form 990 filed with the IRS by OC Human Relations, 2011  (1 of 1)

 

Keeping The Rabble In Line: OC Human Relations Received Special $5,000 Payment From Anaheim Police Chief As Reward For Pacifying Angry Anna Drive Residents

By DUANE ROBERTS
Editor & Publisher

The Anaheim Investigator has recently obtained copies of emails, invoices, check request forms, and other documents from the City of Anaheim which show that Anaheim Police Chief John Welter approved a special $5,000 payment to OC Human Relations as a reward for “crisis services” they rendered on behalf of the Anaheim Police Department in connection with “Anna Dr. neighborhood unrest and gang member arrests” occurring in July and August of last year.

The payment was made roughly one month after OC Human Relations dispatched two employees to canvass the working-class Mexican neighborhood of Anna Drive and gather information from area residents in the aftermath of “Operation Halo,” a law enforcement operation which arrested members of a local “street gang.” Documents in the possession of the Anaheim Investigator hint some of this information was later forwarded to Chief Welter unbeknownst to the residents.

In an email dated September 12, 2012, Rusty Kennedy, Executive Director of OC Human Relations, notified Welter that per a prior agreement his department currently owed his agency $5,000 for “Police Community Reconciliation Services.” He then reminded Welter of a promise to provide additional funds for “deployment of our staff in the Anna Dr. neighborhood on the morning after the gang member joint action arrests,” requesting he pay another $5,000 for “services rendered.”

Kennedy wrote as follows:

I wanted to ask about our invoice for Police Community Reconciliation Services. Our first year agreement with you was for $5,000 and we completed that year on June 30, 2012. It is time for me to invoice for another year. I would like to go ahead and invoice you for the $5,000 for FY 2012-13 as we are into it already.

Additionally, you mentioned that you wanted to pay us for the added crisis services that we rendered in connection with the deployment of our staff in the Anna Dr. neighborhood on the morning after the gang member joint action arrests, and perhaps some of the time for the pre-shift briefings that we started this morning, and consultation and support for the special city council meeting at Anaheim high school.

If you are open to that I would add to the $5,000 invoice for the PCRP staffed by James Armendaris, additional services rendered by our staff members: Edgar Medina, Joyce Sanchez, Don Han, Seema Bhakta, Alison Edwards, and myself, for an additional $5,000.

In response, Welter typed:

I already asked my Finance Manager, Jane Done, to send a check for that amount. I’ll check with her on getting the check out ASAP.

I hope you’re [sic] organization will continue to provide great service to OC cities and law enforcement in spite of OC cuts to your budget.

“You mean you already approved $10,000? $5,000 regular and $5,000 supplemental,” Kennedy immediately emailed back.

“Yes,” said Welter.

According to a “Request for Check Form” numbered “1523727″ and filled out the very same day by Jane Done, Welter approved the issuance of two checks for the amount of $10,000 to be mailed to OC Human Relations at its current Santa Ana address. One of the $5,000 checks was specifically earmarked to pay for “Anna,” or, as was handwritten in the description: “added crisis services rendered in connection with Anna Dr. neighborhood unrest and gang member arrests, etc.”

Financial records from the City of Anaheim show that since July 2006, OC Human Relations has received $67,955 from the Anaheim Police Department. Of that amount, $22,251, or 33% of the entire total, was disbursed between November 2011 and September 2012 alone. Several invoices and check request forms show even the monies the city uses to pay yearly dues to OC Human Relations comes out of the police budget, not the general fund. All payments were approved by Welter.

These and other documents reviewed by the Anaheim Investigator not only suggest the relationship between the Anaheim Police Department and OC Human Relations is much deeper than originally thought, but that the latter agency is not, as some people believe, a neutral third party. In reality, it functions as a de facto arm of law enforcement–a proxy–used now and then to perform special work on its behalf, whether it be intelligence gathering, public relations, or urban pacification.

All of this raises serious questions about what role, if any, OC Human Relations might play in the proposed police oversight committee that could be formed by the City of Anaheim. Since there is now proof this agency is dependent on cash infusions from the Anaheim Police Department to do some of its “work,” how can any of its employees be trusted to be fair and impartial in matters pertaining to resident complaints about police brutality and misconduct?

Additionally, whose interests does OC Human Relations really serve? In all of the emails the Anaheim Investigator has examined so far, Kennedy seems to be wholly obsessed with demonstrating to Welter how effective his agency was in pacifying Anna Drive residents who were angry–angry about being shot and abused by cops. Given part of Kennedy’s salary is being paid for by the police themselves, should anybody be surprised he’s doing what he can to keep the rabble in line?

[Below are electronic reproductions of some of the emails, invoices, and other documents referred to in this article.]

KennedyWelter 1o2

Welter/Kennedy Email Correspondence 9/12/12 (1 of 2)

KennedyWelter 2o2
Welter/Kennedy Email Correspondence 9/12/12 (2 of 2)

Request for check form 91212--APD

APD, Request for Check Form, # 1523727, 9/12/12 (1 of 1)

APD-OC Human Relations Dues FY 2010-2011 (1 of 2)

APD-OC Human Relations Dues FY 2010-2011 (1 of 2)

APD-OC Human Relations Dues FY 2010-2011 (2 of 2)

APD-OC Human Relations Dues FY 2010-2011 (2 of 2)

APD-OC Human Relations Dues FY 2012-2013 (1 of 3)

APD-OC Human Relations Dues FY 2012-2013 (1 of 3)APD-OC Human Relations Dues FY 2012-2012 (2 of 3)

APD-OC Human Relations Dues FY 2012-2013 (2 of 3)

APD-OC Human Relations Dues FY 2012-2013 (3 of 3)

APD-OC Human Relations Dues FY 2012-2013 (3 of 3)

APD Disbursements to OC Human Relations 3-5-13 (1 of 1)

APD Disbursements To OC Human Relations 1/06-2/13 (1 of 1)

Lapdog for Law Enforcement: Emails Reveal OC Human Relations Gathered Info From Anna Drive Residents And Forwarded It To Anaheim Police Chief John Welter

By DUANE ROBERTS
Editor & Publisher

According to copies of emails the Anaheim Investigator obtained last year from the City of Anaheim under provisions of the California Public Records Act, OC Human Relations, a county-sanctioned non-profit agency involved in issues ranging from dispute mediation to combating hate crimes, quickly dispatched a team of two persons to canvass the working-class Mexican neighborhood of Anna Drive in the aftermath of “Operation Halo,” a law enforcement operation which reportedly targeted a local “street gang” whose members were alleged to be engaged in drug trafficking, murder, and other offenses. Although on the surface, the canvassers’ activities appear to be relatively harmless, most of the information they gleaned from Anna Drive residents–some of it apparently quite sensitive–was immediately relayed to Anaheim Police Chief John Welter by Rusty Kennedy, Executive Director of OC Human Relations.

The emails in question, all written by Kennedy, state that canvassers Edgar Medina and Joyce Sanchez spent several hours knocking on doors and talking with Anna Drive residents during the morning of Friday, August 10, 2012–not long after dozens of Anaheim Police, FBI, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearm agents swept through the neighborhood, making a number of arrests.

In one email entitled, “Briefing from Anna Dr and Neighborhood,” Kennedy boasts to Chief Welter his canvassers “made contact with at least 25 families including those who had family members arrested. They assisted them to understand the process.” Among the information they collected, he writes, was that “Some associates of Manuel Diaz suggested that the raid was retaliation for the demonstrations and trash burning and rock throwing.” Kennedy warns Welter “Some of the youth might be more problematic tonight. Possibly lighting trash fires or blocking streets is possible.” In closing, he says “We are not sure how to manage potentially explosive gatherings in the neighborhood tonight and through the weekend.”

“I think the information you’re providing is very valuable,” Welter wrote back in response. “Did you plan on making any of this public? It could help other residents come forward if they see others trust to work with police. Thanks for you and your team for getting out there early.”

Kennedy replied: “I have been including all of the key leaders in the e-mails, and Edgar and Joyce have been open about our collaboration all in the hopes that we project an image of working together with you and your department.”

But despite the claim “key leaders”–most of whom don’t live anywhere near Anna Drive–were made aware of OC Human Relations collaborative efforts with the Anaheim Police Department, it is not clear if any of the residents themselves were notified beforehand that their information would be passed on to Welter. A more interesting question is whether or not anybody in that neighborhood would have cooperated with the canvassers had they known this was going to occur.

These emails, in addition to several others currently in the possession of the Anaheim Investigator, are revealing in that not only do they offer compelling evidence of the very close relationship that has always existed between the Anaheim Police Department and OC Human Relations, but it calls into question the latter agency’s ability to be fair and impartial in any future police oversight committee that might be created in the City of Anaheim.

At the Tuesday, January 15, 2013 meeting of the Anaheim City Council, City Manager Bob Wingenroth submitted a staff report strongly hinting the city could “utilize the pre-existing partnership with the Orange County Human Relations Commission” if it decides to form such a committee. He further added representatives from that agency “have already served our community in pivotal times, assisting our police department in fostering dialogue with the community.”

If by “community,”  Wingenroth was making reference to the Anaheim Police Department, then nobody can deny that, based on the flurry of emails that Kennedy exchanged with Welter throughout 2012, OC Human Relations has served them extremely well.

Following up on two officer-involved shootings that occurred back-to-back one weekend in July 2012, Kennedy shot off an email to Welter making a few revealing remarks which inadvertently exposed his agency for what it truly is: a lapdog for law enforcement:

I [sic] and my staff are completely available to you 24/7, let me know how we can help. If you would like another set of ears at the table as you process this and plan the community relations aspects, I can come over now.

[Below are electronic reproductions of emails used in this article. To read them, all you need to do is click on them to enlarge]

OC Human Relations 7-23-2012 842am p1

OC Human Relations 7-23-2012 842am p2

OC Human Relations 8-10-2012 929am

OC Human Relations 8-10-2012 218pm P3

OC Human Relations 8-10-2012 218pm P1OC Human Relations 8-10-2012 218pm P2

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