Anaheim Police Department Gets Weak-Sauce Recommendations for Reform by City-Paid Auditor

Gennaco in Fullerton after the fatal Kelly Thomas beating
Gennaco in Fullerton after the fatal Kelly Thomas beating
Marisa Gerber

When Anaheimers clamored for police accountability after the 2012 riots, the city council tapped the shoulders of the Office of Independent Review (OIR) instead. The Pasadena-based firm headed by former U.S. civil rights attorney Michael Gennaco got its contract with Anaheim extended and nearly doubled in June 2013. Mayor Tom Tait got to tout police oversight. Anaheim Police Association president Kerry Condon got an auditor which Condon was proud to say never made him scurred.

And what did Anaheim residents get? After nearly two years, OIR finally delivered 20 flaccid recommendations on police shootings.

Gennaco unveiled the report Thursday at the quarterly meeting of Anaheim's huevo-less Public Safety Board. His group reviewed (not investigated) 23 officer-involved shootings and one jail death spanning the past nine years.

The goal of the review is to learn from the most high-profile shootings, including the back-to-back killings in July 2012 that sparked days of protest, so as to give policy cues to keep cops safe and reduce their need to resort to deadly force. Of course, they're just non-binding suggestions. "We are hopeful that the Department consider these recommendations," the report reads.

With that, here's a select few from the "wontcha please do things a lil' differently" list:

  • Reform foot pursuit policy to not place police in unsafe situations
  • Consider the 'shooting in small bursts and reassess' option with mowing down threats
  • Precisely define what is an 'imminent threat'
  • Decide whether head strikes with police weapons equals deadly force
  • Plainclothes officers announce themselves as police before shooting (when doable)
  • Officers report to APD investigators about their shootings the same day
  • Well, what else would anyone expect from a group that used to be funded from APD coffers up until recently? Or from an attorney who described the Fullerton PD's deadly beating of Kelly Thomas as "transforming a casual encounter into an incident resulting in death?"

    None of the officer-involved shootings reviewed are cited in the OIR report. If they were, uncomfortable questions might arise like when the Ninth Circuit Court decided to revive the wrongful death lawsuit for Caesar Ray Cruz, slain in December 2009. Beyond remedies of foot pursuit policy for so-called "waistband shootings," the court wondered out loud why Cruz would reach for his waistband, as police say, when he had no gun to retrieve from it?

    In the case of Justin Hertl, the OIR has nothing to say about his grandmother's claims that her eyewitness statements weren't included in the police report of the deadly shooting.

    When Gennaco isn't doling out recommendations for police shooting policy and investigations, he ends by fawning over the police department's reform efforts. The new neighborhood advisory committee, "coffee with a cop" meetings, expansion of GRIP to twelve school campuses, and body cameras are all part of the glowing appraisal.

    "APD has moved forward significantly in meaningful ways," the report reads, "with efforts to gain the community's trust." Anaheim police couldn't have said it better themselves.

    Read the Anaheim OIR report in its entirety online HERE.

    Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2

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