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.
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