Police Chief Raul Quezada is only 48, but already announced his retirement from the Anaheim Police Department. The city delivered the news yesterday afternoon just two minutes after the Anaheim Police Management Association (APMA) issued a press release of its own calling for the city's first-ever Latino top cop to retire or resign. The APMA, comprised of lieutenants, captains and deputy chiefs, joined with Anaheim Police Association (APA) rank-and-file officers who declared no confidence in Quezada's leadership two months ago.
"I'm proud of the non-traditional community engagement methods used to help us identify crime trends, maintain our outstanding safety record, improve the way of life in Anaheim and positively influence the next generation of residents," Quezada said in the city's press release. His departure became official on Monday and follows an undisclosed settlement of a claim filed by the chief against the city.
Quezada began serving as interim police chief in May 2013 following John Welter's retirement from the post. Months later, the city council officially appointed him to the position that December. His nearly four-year tenure came to an end mired in controversy, but he maintained political support from many council members. "Raul's leadership was instrumental in rebuilding trusting relationships in many of our priority neighborhoods," Mayor Tom Tait said in the city press release. "He has overseen critical cultural and operational changes that have brought the department close to those it serves, and I thank him for his service to Anaheim."
But a majority of police officers that served under Quezada felt it time for a change.
The APA surveyed its membership and announced an 87 percent vote of no confidence in the chief in August. Quezada held onto the position when the APMA's executive board and most of its membership recognized the no confidence vote with a poll of their own. "Never before has the Management Association, a chief's most trusted and senior staff, joined with rank-and-file in calling for a new police chief," said APA president Edgar Hampton in a press statement. "The members of the APMA are the employees and inner circle of management of the department. Their wanting a change in the chief of police, and thus lack of confidence, should send a message that a change needs to be made—and fast. Today would be the perfect time." Minutes later, both associations got what they wanted with Quezada's announcement.
Quezada first suited up in uniform for the Anaheim Police Department in 1996. He served as a captain during the Anaheim Riots of 2012. A leaked Incident Action Report showed a lesser-known Quezada at the time topping the chain of command alongside former deputy chief Craig Hunter for the department's infamous militarized police response to 400 protesters days after the downtown riots. Plans included containing any potential civil unrest that weekend in Anaheim's "Hot Zones" where recent officer-involved shootings heightened tensions in working-class barrios.
In touting Quezada's achievements, the city noted being the first department in OC to outfit its officers with body-worn cameras under his helm. Quezada also started a Chief's Neighborhood Advisory Council in 2015 to better bridge community-police relations. And the retiring top cop bequeaths Anaheim with a program installing police-monitored cameras in city parks that's slated to begin by year's end.
Towards the end of Quezada's tenure, the department made international headlines for all the wrong reasons again. A "White Lives Do Matter" rally held at Pearson Park in February 2016 immediately devolved into a brutal brawl between the Ku Klux Klan and counter-protesters without any uniformed officers on scene for minutes. Three protesters got stabbed in the melee as the police response came under criticism. Quezada peddled a story to city council about the Klan showing up at an unexpected time when internal emails and copious police reports showed otherwise. The APA linked to the Weekly's investigation in a memo outlining reasons for the no confidence vote.
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Last October, Captain Jarrett Young also accused Quezada and Deputy Chief Dan Cahill of time card fraud, but an investigation by a city-contracted law firm found no wrongdoing. Quezada filed his claim against the city this summer citing "intolerable" working conditions while the APA readied its no confidence vote. It blamed the city for giving Young an "untouchable" status that led to polarization in the department after Quezada took "justified actions" against him in 2013 for "illegal/inappropriate" conduct. "Being possibly wrongfully forced to retire from [Quezada's] protected civil service employment, prior to being 50 years of age and prior to having his 30 years of service would result in significant financial damage to him," the claim read.
Before Quezada's announcement, the APMA already positioned a favored successor in Deputy Chief Julian Harvey and not Cahill. "Julian is the Deputy Chief of Police who knows all the facets of our department and our community," APMA board members Lt. Kelly Jung and James Rodriguez said in a joint statement. "After this change, the future will be brighter for our beloved Department. We will never be divided on major issues and wanted to show all what a united department and groups can do."
Deputy Chief Julian Harvey, a fluent Spanish speaker with a reputation for integrity among his fellow officers, has been appointed acting police chief. A search for a permanent hire for the position will begin soon.
Correction: The APMA called for a new chief, but did not hold a no confidence vote as previously reported