Anaheim Police Association President Edgar Hampton took to the OC Register opinion section last week to blast a report by the ACLU on the Anaheim Police Department’s use of force as fatally flawed and politically motivated:
To hear the American Civil Liberties Union portray us, the Anaheim Police Department is full of Inspector Harry Callahans dispensing Dirty Harry-style street justice without the bother of judge, jury and prosecutor.
Before I detail some of the egregious flaws in the ACLU’s Anaheim Police Department Use of Force Report 2017, let me give the group a small amount of credit for at least being honest about the report’s main purpose and the timing of its release at a November 20 press conference — politics.
As the The Register reported, “The timing of the ACLU report purposely coincides with the upcoming review [of the Anaheim Public Safety Board the ACLU lobbied for the creation of] and with the city’s search for a new police chief to replace Raul Quezada, said Peter Bibring, director of police practices for the ACLU of Southern California, who co-authored the report. Quezada resigned last month following a no-confidence vote by officers.”
As someone who has walked the thin blue line in protection of Anaheim’s citizens, I hope acting Chief Julian Harvey’s intelligent response to the report does not ruin his chance for fair consideration for the job, but now that the ACLU has made the position about politics and not qualifications, I worry and so do the officers on the beat that my association represents.
Now, to the facts of the matter.
• The ridiculous ranking of Anaheim 9th out of 60 U.S. cities in officer involved shootings was aimed at tickling some exciting headlines out of the media. Were Anaheim to be judged on its OIS rate against the number of calls for service it receives in a year that ranking would plummet.
• The report never examines injuries to officers, assaults on officers, or the number of non-police shootings compared to police shootings.
• The report also neglects to point out how many times officers used less-than-lethal options to subdue suspects who are armed with assorted weapons.
Particularly irritating to me, as someone who has had to put his right hand over his firearm in preparation for a possible life-threatening encounter, is the report’s complete omission of why certain people were shot. But that would undercut the sensationalism the report aimed for.
Anaheim has become increasingly dangerous, in no small part because the state and county continue to release more and more prisoners back into communities like ours. The state also is making law enforcement a joke by reducing felonies to misdemeanors and misdemeanors to infractions — a policy that failed in the 70s and will fail again.
Amazingly, despite the increased workload placed on officers, Anaheim police made over 13,000 arrests last year that required only 136 uses of force (less than 1 percent of the time). For the ACLU to act as if we’re some rogue department is absurd.
And what of the ACLU itself? In its report on us, it curiously crows, “Since 2012, the ACLU of Southern California has worked on police reform issues with Anaheim and Orange County organizations and residents.” Is that so? So, in five years, your work has amounted to nothing if what you say about us is true.
Also incredibly ironic is the fact that an organization like the ACLU, comprised of attorneys who can only be disbarred by convening a group of attorneys, demands no police involvement in police oversight.
Whomever you want to believe, one thing is certain: If our police department were as out of control as the ACLU portrays us, it would have sicced the FBI on us long ago and we’d be under a consent decree, such as the Los Angeles Police Department is.
The facts are that Anaheim has done a lot more than most cities in community outreach and police transparency.
Edgar Hampton is president of the Anaheim Police Association.