Two weeks ago, the Anaheim Police Department quietly updated its policy manual and have only recently made six sections available online. It's described as a “living document that is subject to constant change” and one that “should be employed with sound reason, judgment and discretion.”
What the hell is this–the new Constitution?
Adopted on May 13, 2013, the policy sections accessible to all concern use of force, major incident reviews, officer-involved shootings, vehicle pursuits, use of digital audio recorders (DAR), and uniform regulations.
“Until a redacted version of the entire Policy Manual is available” the website says, “the sections included here represent a sample of those which are often requested by the public.” No press release was issued from the heavily scrutinized department concerning the move made ostensibly towards greater transparency, but the Weekly gently reviews some of its interesting points.
Where it pertains to the use of digital audio recorders, the adopted policy manual reads, “all enforcement and investigative contacts, as well as all contacts specifically related to a call for service by uniformed personnel both sworn and non-sworn, will be recorded. This includes but is not limited to: all traffic stops; victim, suspect and witness interviews; and other citizen contacts related to calls for service.”
However, it also notes that “at no time should a Department employee jeopardize his/her safety in order to activate a DAR or change the recording media.”
Digital audio recorders gained a heightened focus in the officer-involved shooting that killed 25-year-old Manuel Diaz last year in Anna Drive. According to the Orange County District Attorney's report, Officer Nick Bennallack turned on his DAR after the fatal shots had been fired as he reportedly looked for a weapon he believed to have been pitched. The DA's office stated during the media roundtable that there were no plans to make the recording public.
Under the recently adopted policy, the Chief of Police is authorized to make audio captured by the devices available to the press.
The manual partially posted online also details what should happen when there's an officer-involved shooting, of which amazingly Anaheim police have committed no fatal ones so far this year. The investigative process that is outlined conforms to the Orange County Chiefs of Police and Sheriff's Association's protocol. For instance, “once the involved officer(s) have arrived at the station,” the policy reads, “the Watch Commander should admonish each officer that the incident shall not be discussed except with authorized personnel or representatives.”
It also goes on to note that “each involved officer shall be given reasonable paid administrative leave following an officer-involved shooting.” Nothing new there…
The Anaheim police also have a dress code as “employees are not to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages while wearing any part of the department uniform, including the uniform pants.” If anyone sees a cop catching a brew while sporting their digs, it's a no-no!
The policy dealing with uniform regulations also acknowledges assignments in which civilian attire is necessary. The leaked Incident Action Report stemming from the militarized police response to July 29, 2012 protests noted that five plain clothes investigators were assigned on duty to monitor demonstrators.
When in civilian attire out in the field for such tasks or others, the policy states a list of choices to be refrained from including wearing: T-shirt alone, open-toe sandals or thongs; swimsuit, tube tops, or halter-tops; Spandex-type pants or see-through clothing; or distasteful printed slogans, buttons or pins.
Additionally, “no item of civilian attire may be worn on duty that would adversely affect the reputation of the Anaheim Police Department or the morale of the employees.”
That wraps up the Weekly's cliff notes version of the updated policy manual. The rest is for happy reading!
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz