On Saturday, Costa Mesa City CouncilmanEric Bever
held a news conference to level allegations that on-duty Costa Mesa Police Department officers were intimidating supporters of council candidateJim Righeimer
on the streets.
Today, the department that includes personnel belonging to a union that has waged a high-profile campaign against Righeimer, answered for itself.
Here is the CMPD statement:
October 19, 2010
In response to allegations of possible police misconduct made by Costa Mesa City Councilmember Eric Bever and another citizen, the city has retained an outside investigator so the matter may be reviewed independently of the police department. The investigation will focus on whether any police department rules, regulations or policies were violated. Should the investigation reveal any criminal activity, that information will be turned over to the appropriate prosecutor's office. The investigation will be conducted in accordance with the Peace Officer's Bill of Rights and the City's Personnel regulations as will any findings which may result.
Costa Mesa Chief of Police Christopher Shawkey said in a statement issued by his office, "While I certainly feel that the Professional Standards Unit within the police department would have provided a fair and objective review and investigation of the allegations, we recognize the need for independence of this investigation so all the parties involved, including members of the Costa Mesa Police Department and the citizens of Costa Mesa, have complete confidence in an impartial investigation."
Additional questions should be referred to the Police Chief's Office.
Righeimer, a city planning commissioner, months ago told police and fire employees during a debate that he would go after their pay and pensions if elected to the City Council, blaming them for the state and local budget mess.
The Costa Mesa Police Association has responded with an all-out assault on Righeimer's candidacy via campaign mailers, a website and mobile billboard that details a host dirt below the words "KNOW RIGHEIMER," with the N-O in "Know" and the candidate's last name bolded in red.
Here is a "No on Righeimer" video:
But Bever and fellow Righeimer supporter Chris Eric claim it's gone farther than these negative tactics, alleging a police cruiser on Thursday passed three times as they hung a sign for the candidate on 17th Street and Superior Avenue, the same corner where they held their news conference.
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Two officers inside the police car possibly photographed them and gave what Eric called a "hard look" and "the stink eye."
who is Righeimer's brother-in-law, has retained a lawyer for what he labeled "police intimidation."
Speaking with the Daily Pilot, Costa Mesa Police Association president Allen Rieckhof said members are told politicking must be done off-duty and "they all know not to do it" on-duty.
But Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, who resides in Costa Mesa, is among those calling for an investigation, claiming he has experienced intimidation from Orange County Sheriff's Department union members while campaigning.