Report Recommends Changes for Anaheim PD

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The Anaheim Police Department waits 48 hours before interviewing officers who have fatally shot someone while on duty — a policy that is “not consistent with investigations 101,” according to one of the authors of a report released this week on the department’s rules and procedures relating to officer-involved shootings.

That revelation topped a list of findings outlined in the report by the Los Angeles-based Office of Independent Review (OIR) Group, which was commissioned after a spate of officer-involved shootings during the summer of 2012 triggered a riot in downtown Anaheim.

The report also recommended that the department develop a policy that determines the proper procedures for officers when they chase suspects on foot.

Those and other criticisms and suggestions notwithstanding, OIR Group Chief Attorney Michael Gennaco said his review found that overall, the Anaheim department’s policies regarding officer-involved shootings fall in line with those in other departments.

However, he says Anaheim could improve its practices in a number of areas to reduce the chances of a fatal police shooting occurring. And he pointed out that there a number of police shooting victims in Anaheim turned out to be unarmed.

“The policies that Anaheim has are pretty much consistent with most police departments, but we want them to do better than that,” Gennaco said.

A representative of the police union defended the 48-hour rule, and took issue with the recommendation to update the pursuit policy.

City leaders commissioned the report after a pair of fatal police shootings destroyed trust between the police department and working-class Latino neighborhoods and sparked a riot of mostly Latino youth in the downtown that left 20 businesses damaged.

One of the victims, 25 year-old Manuel Diaz, died when a police officer shot him during a foot pursuit. The officer, Nick Bannallack, shot Diaz after he saw the man reach for his waistband, Bannallack told investigators. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ office eventually cleared the officer of wrongdoing.

The next day, Joel Acevedo was shot during a police chase. A gun with Acevedo’s DNA was found near his body, according to police. A witness who was arrested at the scene for vehicle theft said she saw officers hold Acevedo down while another executed him.

The DA’s office also cleared Acevedo’s shooter of wrongdoing.

Anaheim has implemented some reforms since the shootings, including requiring officers to wear body cameras and audio recording of uniformed officers. The city also started a civilian public safety review board.

Regarding the 48-hour wait time before interviews, the report said giving officers that much time before having to submit to questioning makes it more likely that their description of events will be corrupted by the passage of time, their review of video of the shooting, or conversations they have with other witnesses

A foot pursuit policy could lead to fewer shootings of unarmed suspects, Gennaco said.

Other police departments have policies that require officers to immediately request assistance from other officers and to end the foot pursuit if a the officer can’t radio broadcast details of the situation, of if the officer loses sight of the suspect, according to the report.

Foot pursuits often end in what the report calls “waistband shootings,” which are situations where the officer says the suspect was reaching for his or her waistband, possibly for a weapon, when it later turns out the suspect was unarmed, the report says.

The report also recommends more specific parameters around identifying an imminent threat. For example, the department’s current policy doesn’t specify whether a suspect trying to escape constitutes an imminent threat, leaving it unclear whether using deadly force is appropriate for those situations.

Kerry Condon, president of the Anaheim Police Officers Association, says he agrees with some recommendations in the report. But he disagrees with the suggestion to undo the 48-hour rule on officers’ statements after they’ve shot someone, arguing that it’s a “proven fact” that officers remember details of the incident better once they’ve had time to recuperate from a traumatic experience.

He says he that the policy is the department’s way of not treating officers like suspects in a criminal case.

“They’re not criminals. We should not treat them like they did a criminal act,” Condon said. “Officers have one shot to give a voluntary statement, and that statement will follow them.”

Condon also said he disagreed with the proposal to implement a foot-pursuit policy. Restricting officers from engaging in foot pursuits could put innocents in harm’s way, according to Condon. And he said officers are already trained in how to conduct such pursuits.

“When we shoot our weapon at someone, we’re not shooting to wound,” Condon said. “That’s why it’s called deadly force.”

Whether the city will implement any of the recommendations is unclear. City spokeswoman Ruth Ruiz said the police would respond to the report at future meetings of the public safety review board, and Condon said he hasn’t heard of any changes on the horizon.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: @adamelmahrek

  • yazzoo7

    Does anyone proofread these articles before they’re posted? Or, does VoOC simply allow whatever 10-year-old writer they employee to post whatever they feel?

  • Francisco J. Barragan

    This is why police officers need to use the other part of their training which is to DESCALATE a situation, to avoid using deadly force, and to only use deadly force when absolutely necessary. ( ““When we shoot our weapon at someone, we’re not shooting to wound,” Condon said. “That’s why it’s called deadly force.”)

    • David Zenger

      Right. The problem is that for some cops de-escalation seems not to be in the utility belt at all. In fact, the reverse. Once that path is pursued the chances of a peaceful outcome from the “peace” officer is remote.

      Condon’s quotation is really quite appalling, if you think about it for a while.

      • Ltpar

        All you “de-escelation” fans clearly hae no clue as to what life is like on the streets. Most dirt bags encountered aren’t interested in de-escelating anything, except to either attack or distance themselves from the Officer. Officers are trained and retrained to quickly analyze an incident and react by training and instinct. Use of deadly force is the last tool in the tool box and is never taken lightly. Officers go through shoot, don’t shoot scenarios as part of ther advanced training to mentally condition them for the difficult task of identifying who is a threat and who might be a victim. Bottom line is, if a suspect flees, fails to stop on command, reaches for his wasteband where a weapon may or may not be hidden, he will come up on the losing end of the equation every time. The solution is simple, cooperate with the Police, don’t flee the scene and when cornered, raise your hands in the air and chances are good you will not get shot. For you arm chair quarterback out there, quit trying to be an expert at something you know nothing about and get back to watching reruns of Law & Order.

        • David Zenger

          Hey, I’ve been reading a lot about waistbands in the reports of police shootings (you spelled it “wasteband” as in “let’s waste the SOB”).

          What exactly is a waistband? Is that a sartorial or a police term of art? Whenever I hear it I keep thinking about Ban Roll pants and bad toupees.

  • anon

    ‘They’re not criminals’? Is that because they are ‘de facto’ ‘above the law’ they claim to enforce and it’s improbable to convict an officer of breaking the law while on duty? Or is it because it is easy to claim the suspect gave a ‘furtive movement’, ‘reached toward his waist’, ‘was resisting’ (didn’t go completely and utterly limp and didn’t absolutely and completely allow the officers to do whatever they wish), ‘was non-compliant’ (didn’t ‘lick their boots’) or ‘I was in fear of my life or possible bodily harm’ (as if they are special and deserve to be treated differently than ‘citizens’) is used an excuse? Or is it because they cover up and lie when their fellow officers break the law?

    ‘They’re not criminals’ is a specious claim when they are ‘de facto’ ‘above the law’ they claim to enforce, and the law itself gives them immunity and special treatment as if their bodies and uniforms were ‘holy’ and shouldn’t be touched or breathed upon. Touching the pope can get you into less trouble than touching the uniform or body of a police officer in the USA.

    • Ltpar

      If you think the real world is like the old west when Roy Rogers and Gener Autry shot the guns out of the hands of guys wearing the black hats, you have been living under a rock? Officers are trained to use deadly force only as a last resort and the aim is for center body mass with a double tap. Officer Condon is right on when he says, it is called “deadly force” for a reason. No Officer goes to work wanting to become involved in a shooting, much less take a life. So sorry folks, it comes with the territory. You also need to keep in mind each and every day tens of thousands of Police encounters happen across the United States and very few end up as deadly force incidents. I’d say the men and women of law enforcement are doing a pretty good job keeping whiners like you safe.

      • anon

        The ‘legal street gang’ known as the Police Department in the USA is the most dangerous gang around. I fear it far more than any other USA gang.

        ‘Keeping me safe’? From what? Their fellow officers? The so-called ‘good cops’ are complicit and don’t expose the ‘bad cops’, because they are ‘in fear’ of losing their jobs, not getting backup, being reprimanded, ‘making waves’.

        Sorry, but you are blinded by the idea that in general the police in the USA is ‘good’, and that there are a few ‘bad apples’. Wrong. It is rotten to the core and it is a ‘legal gang’.
        I will say this, the Anaheim Police Department is doing a good job *giving the appearance* of changing its image.

        They are having more positive programs, like the ‘coffee with a cop’ program. The current police chief is probably a step up from the prior one, or he is at least more sly in quelling the public by pacifying it by appearing to be more friendly to it.

        • Ltpar

          Anytime you think you can do a better job, feel free to rush right down to your local Police Department and get your application in. Who knows, you might just be that lucky 1 in 100 applicants who makes it. Then, you too can be part of most dangerous gang in the United States.

          • David Zenger

            “that lucky 1 in 100 applicants who makes it.”

            Lucky is right. Just like Manuel Ramos and Joe Wolfe.