The incipient Police Review Board was on the agenda at last week’s city council meeting, and a number of anti-police activists went to the podium to condemn the Anaheim Police Department as extraordinarily violent organization badly in need of severe oversight.
This is nothing new: the same activists have been leveling the same charges at city council meetings for the past few years. What was remarkable was District 1 Councilmember Denise Barnes comments equating the routine denunciations with a vote of no-confidence by the public in the Anaheim Police Department:
“I really heard tonight a vote of no confidence. That’s what I heard if we were to take a vote from what just happened tonight,” said Barnes. “Even though we try to bring improvements and counseling to the police, we still know that we are not a city of kindness within even our [police] department.”
Certainly these activists have no confidence in the Anaheim Police Department, or have a low opinion of police in general. And several of them have been experienced emotional shattering after having a loved one killed in a police shooting, regardless of the circumstances of the shooting. However, Barnes really misses the mark by construing sustained pressure tactics as representative of general public opinion. Does she honestly think the average Anaheim citizen has no confidence in their police department and consider it murderous and out of control? If that is the case, she is seriously misreading public opinion.
Furthermore, has Barnes considered how her comments impact police morale? No police department can escape incidents of excessive force – they have to hire their officers from the human race. However, given the thousands and thousands of interactions annually between Anaheim police and residents, use of force is sparing. But these activists reflexively characterize officer-involved shootings as “murders.” In their world-view, the police are racists and murderers. The one-sided ACLU “report” was politically crafted and timed in order to influence the council regarding the Police Review Board and the selection of a new chief. What are Anaheim police officers – and the public at large – supposed to think when Councilmember Barnes ratifies the views of anti-police activists and states there is no kindness in the APD? Barnes remarks were woolly-headed and ill-considered, at best.