Anaheim is poised to make UC Irvine police chief Jorge Cisneros the city’s top cop with an affirming council vote this evening. Following the pressured retirement of former chief Raul Quezada last year, Cisneros would become the second-ever Latino to hold the post in department history. Since 2015, he’s headed UCI’s campus police following a law enforcement career that began with the Long Beach Police Department. Cisneros also served as police chief in Huntington Park for five years, including doing double duties as city manager for a year.
But before council members take a vote on Cisneros tonight, they’ll be briefed during closed session on a whistleblower lawsuit from Captain Jarret Young, a legal leftover from a factional civil war within the top brass of the department that Cisneros, an outsider, is readying to take the helm of.
Back in Oct. 2016, Young first went public with allegations that pegged Quezada and deputy chief Dan Cahill as a couple of time card fraudsters. The city hired an outside firm to investigate charges that the pair took time off work without properly noting it. The months-long investigation later cleared Quezada and Cahill last June, but the Anaheim Police Association (APA) invoked the controversy as one reason among many for why its members gave the chief a stinging vote of no confidence two months later in August.
Quezada retired at the ripe-old age of 48 last October, but not before securing a $750,000 settlement from the city to dismiss a claim that cited an “intolerable” workplace, one that specifically failed to discipline Young for his accusations. Deputy chief Julian Harvey took over as Anaheim’s top cop on an interim basis with the Anaheim Police Management Association weighing in positively. “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 stated at the time. “After this change, the future will be brighter for our beloved Department.”
In the shakeup, Cahill got canned and filed his own wrongful termination lawsuit. According to the city, it was dismissed without merit. A motion on attorney’s fees scheduled for August is the last remaining matter in the case.
While city manager Linda Andal’s search for a new, permanent police chief continued, Young still had a point of contention. He filed his whistleblower lawsuit on Jan. 12 claiming retaliation cost him promotions. Court documents state that in Sept. 2016, Young got assigned to be captain of the administrative division with responsibilities including professional standards and finances. He alleges that a peek of Cahill’s calendar showed 44 days out of office with markings including “Montana,” “Hunting Central California,” “Vacation” and “Out Sick” but only took four days of personal leave. Young claimed Cahill got paid to play hooky to the tune of $38,000 while Quezada rang the city up for $24,000 in doing much the same.
When presenting evidence to the city, the suit alleges, staff informed Young that his findings wouldn’t be forwarded to the Orange County District Attorney’s office, even though the captain already alerted the OCDA independently (The agency ended up affirming the city’s probe in closing its inquiry without filing criminal charges). While the investigation continued, Young claims he faced retaliation starting in Apr. 2017 in the form of “continuously denying him Acting Deputy Chief positions and/or promotions.”
A jury trial is scheduled for Jan. 22, 2019 in Orange County Superior Court Judge Ronald L. Bauer’s courtroom.
With the Anaheim Police Department firmly transitioning over its past internal rivalries, there appears to be no ill will on the surface towards the city manager for not appointing Harvey to continue shepherding that process as police chief. For its part, the APA is striking a supportive tone for Cisneros.
“We welcome Chief Jorge Cisneros and I look forward to working with him,” Edgar Hampton, APA president, tells the Weekly. “Chief Cisneros will get 100 percent of our effort to help him be successful. That is the direction I have given to our executive board of directors and our membership. His success will be our success and ultimately that’s what’s best for the city of Anaheim.”
Gabriel San Roman is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and tallest Mexican in OC.