Santa Ana Cops Request ‘No Confidence’ Vote in Police Chief

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A wave of discontent appears to be washing over the Santa Ana Police Department, with officers requesting a vote of no confidence in Police Chief Carlos Rojas during the Oct. 8 meeting of the city’s police officers association.

Police union President John Franks confirmed the officers’ request in a statement issued to Voice of OC. But his statement didn’t elaborate on why officers have become disgruntled, and it’s unclear whether a no confidence vote will actually occur.

“There are some internal considerations we believe are not being met by the Chief and his management,” Franks wrote in a text message to a reporter. “We look forward to discussing the issues with our management with hopes of improving our working conditions.”

Rank-and-file officers say even though the department is understaffed Rojas continues to embark on new initiatives that require more officers, like reassigning officers from citywide patrols to geographic beats, according to a source close to the department. Officers are also upset over what they call overzealous attempts at holding them accountable for misconduct.

The police department has come under intense scrutiny over the last year, with currents of resistance against a controversial gang injunction in the Townsend neighborhood, demands for more police accountability, and a video of a pot shop police raid that showed officers mocking an amputee and possibly eating marijuana edibles.

Rojas — who was appointed chief on May 6 last year after two years as interim chief – said he is aware that the meeting took place but has not been given specifics as to what the rank-and-file is angry about.

“I’ll tell you nobody has brought anything to me officially in terms of complaints or bullet points… I’m really in the dark on this. Nobody has brought anything to me,” Rojas said. “I’m proud of our department, and I’m proud to be the police chief here. That’s all I can say.”

Rojas pointed to 50 officers hired since 2014, with more applicants in the queue, as evidence that he is increasing the number of officers in the department. He also defended the geographical beats as important to having officers get to know the community they serve. Officers could roam citywide under the previous model, which he said is less effective.

“Is staffing ideal for it? No,” Rojas said. “But having a plan is better than not having a plan at all.”

As for targeting officers for misconduct, Rojas said he holds officers accountable and follows the processes the department has in place.

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

  • yayaya

    Very true….that is Chief Rojas biggest problem….not being fair and consistent on discipline issues.

  • Joseph

    Often when law enforcement is in my immediate awareness. The instant thought I come up with. Is it must be tough to be a police officer for any and all communities in the U. S. There must be a substantial amount of discord, temptation, selfishness, hidden motives, lack of awareness, being naive, failure of experience, absence to a constitutional handle, influence of power, fair wages, a secretive community (likely) in the growth from training. In all ranks, in all departments. I am certain these described positions have existed even after the likelihood of recruitment. Most police Chiefs function in the evolution from the U. S. Constitutional Laws, contrary to the executive bureaucracy which does not reach every American and grows rampant about crime no matter what the circumstances are. Chiefs of Police who provide communities quality policing. Typically are rooted in dignity and every other earnest value people can generally conceive. As well as treating the community with legitimate dignity. Having good leadership in a community trained to use deadly force, of course will create conflict in the doubtful and in the faithful. The faithful will generally be graceful in training while the doubtful will give a struggle to training. I am certain a Chief of Police would have this knowledge.

  • Seatired

    They are pissed off because their gang-like operation has been interrupted by the video exposing them as the true criminals.

  • Ltpar

    I don’t know of any Police Department that does not assign Officers to specific areas or beats. Most of the time where problems arise is if the officers are not able to assigned to priority calls outside their area. This increases response times and decreases service to the clients.

    I have no insider knowledge of the inner workings of Santa Ana Police Department, but consider it to be an excellent agency. My suggestion to the Chief would be; get out of the “ivory tower” spend time in the field with your Officers and more importantly listen to what they have to say. You might also consider a Officer oriented Deputy Chief who works daily with field Officers, exercises leadership and builds trust and communications.

  • guest

    Rojas appears to make decisions based on public perception and not facts, but not sure that is the cause of the vote of no confidence. Maybe it was his administrations misconduct being whitewashed that is the problem. If he holds his officers accountable, he should hold his administration to a higher standard.

    • yayaya

      Exactly….this is why the staff is upset with him. Rojas does not hold his Deputy Chief accountable for his messing around with women (he’s married) and his 3 sexual harassment claims pending. He gets to stay working while under investigation….and why? He’s friends with Rojas. There are many instances like this. You cannot be a good leader making decisions this Chief makes.

  • Bob Brock

    Rojas seems to be doing a good job in a tough situation in Santa Ana. Am I missing something? A good leader holds his team accountable for their actions and responsible officers would appreciate that I would think.

    • Jasenn Zaejian

      Rojas appears to be doing an effective job as a leader and protector of the public. The police union response and complaints lends credence to that fact that he is doing an effective job of policing the police, and rationally attempting to protect the public.

      • Dylan

        “You show me a police chief loved by his police association and I’ll show you a chief who doesn’t do his job”

        Ray Davis – Former Santa Ana Police Chief – LA Times – 11/17/83

    • yayaya

      Yes you are missing something………..go talk to employees.

  • LFOldTimer

    Wow. I wonder what ticked off the rank and file? Rojas didn’t do something egregious like actually make those SA narcotic cops submit to drug testing after being found on video allegedly eating dispensary product in front of their cop friends did he? Hey, if he wants to get tough order them to take 3 months paid administrative leave like the other progressive departments. That’ll teach ’em. Or better yet, send them to the SA grade schools to lecture the school children on the evils of drugs and the need to respect the property of others.

  • Paul Lucas

    Im betting its mostly due to his quasi holding accountable the officers in the dispensary raid.

    • LFOldTimer

      Accountable? Who? When? You mean the administrative paid leave? Otherwise I must have missed it.

      • Paul Lucas

        If my memory serves me correctly, those officers were placed on administrative leave.

        • LFOldTimer

          Admin leave? I’ve never heard of police admin leave during an internal affairs inquiry without it being paid. What a terrible fate to suffer. Let’s start a gofundme campaign to make up for the lost overtime.

          • Paul Lucas

            You’re preaching to the choir.

        • Ltpar

          They may have called it “Administrative Leave” but it was still paid time while the Internal Affairs Investigation was conducted. You wouldn’t know the results of the IA or the level of discipline administered as those are personnel matters. The Officers of the department would know however, as there are few secrets inside a Police Organization.

          • Paul Lucas

            Hence why I keep calling for a repeal of POBOR as the original author of POBOR wanted to do.

          • Ltpar

            Everyone needs a fantasy and clearly getting rid of the Police Officer Bill of Rights is yours. I have worked in law enforcement without it, where management ran rough shod over the Officers. I have also worled in law enforcement with POBOR, serving as Police Association President in Irvine for 17 years enforcing it. You haven’t a clue as to what POBOR is or how it works, but it has very little direct impact on the public but protects the rights of Officers.

          • Paul Lucas

            Thats such bullshit Pat. POBOR was written by a guy who saw that it had the extreme opposite of the desired effect to which he wanted to repeal it to his dying days. POBOR is a weapon used against innocent civilians at the cost of shielding criminals with badges from accountability and is a fiat for pure unadulterated corruption by LEO’s.

          • LFOldTimer

            POBOR give cops rights that no employees I know of in the workplace (certainly not in the private sector) have. It’s practically a carte blanche allowance to screw up intentionally or unintentionally and not be held accountable. The Santa Ana narcotic cops are a perfect example. Shown on video literally destroying thousands of dollars worth of electronic equipment. If anyone without a badge pulled that nonsense there wouldn’t be a prolonged investigation or any admin leave. That’s for sure. Straight to jail they’d go. So the old myth that cops are held to a “higher standard” is pure baloney. The examples are numerous. And those who claim they are IMO have zero credibility. This one of many reasons public confidence in LE has fallen off the edge of the cliff. It didn’t used to be that way.

          • LFOldTimer

            You seem to have an excuse for everything. I figure Obama’s Press Secretary will burn out in a month or two. You oughta submit an app. I think Obama would recognize your talent.

    • Ltpar

      I doubt whatever disciplinary actions taken, if any, on the cannibus raid had anything to do with discontent on the part of Santa Ana Officers. Officers today hate when their peers screw the pooch and make ethem all look bad. If the Officers on the raid were guilty of misconduct, they should have been severely disciplined and removed from their assignment. I suspect it is more in the line of Officers never seeing the boss, him never communicating with them and their belief he is interested more in politics than the well being of the Police Department. These days, it take a lot of unhappiness on the part of Officers to get to the stage of a vote of “No Confidence.” Hopefully, they will work out the differences and get back to protecting the people of Santa Ana.