David Hendricks, a 24-year veteran of the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD), is the new Fullerton chief of police, a position that hadn’t had a permanent chief for the past eight months.

Hendricks was unanimously approved by the city council Tuesday and is expected to start Aug. 7.

As deputy chief in Long Beach he oversees the patrol unit that has about 600 employees, nearly three times the size of the Fullerton Police department, which includes 150 sworn officers and 70 civilian positions. From December 2010 to December 2012 he headed the Long Beach department’s internal affairs unit.

Councilwoman Jennifer Fitzgerald and Councilman Greg Sebourn were absent Tuesday but they sent letters of support for Hendricks, which were read into the public record by the city clerk.

However, not all the comments were as supportive as the council’s.

During public comment, resident and community watchdog Sean Paden said Hendricks’ starting salary of $229,200 is too much and would make him the highest paid city employee. Incoming City Manager Ken Domer, who starts July 24, will have a base pay of $225,000.

“This (Hendricks’) pay package is too high,” Paden told the city council. “We should not be compensating anyone at this level. This is going to make him the highest paid by a substantial amount,” Paden said, reminding the council that departments around the city have been asked to tighten their belts and cut down expenses as much as possible during this budget cycle.

The last Police Chief, Dan Hughes, was paid $206,770 in 2015, his last full year on the job, according to the web site Transparent California.

Hughes retired in November to take a job at Disneyland, but not before controversy erupted over former City Manager Joe Felz’ November 2016 election night car crash.

Officers that night determined Felz had been drinking, but decided he wasn’t drunk, even though no breathalyzer was given, according to a memo from Hughes to the city council the next day. Felz reportedly tried to drive away from the scene but officers drove him home instead.

Since then, Felz has been charged by the district attorney’s office for a DUI and is still awaiting a trial.

Hughes took over after former Chief Michael Sellers retired in February 2012, following the July 5, 2011 police beating death of mentally ill homeless man Kelly Thomas that sparked national publicity and led to the recall of three city council members.

The three officers involved in the beating death of Thomas were charged with murder and manslaughter by the DA, but were acquitted by a jury.

In 2015, the city settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Ron Thomas, Kelly Thomas’ dad, who got $4.9 million.

Since Hughes left for Disneyland, the Fullerton Police Department has been headed by Interim Chief Dave Hinig and acting chief, Capt. John Siko.

Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC intern. He can be reached at spencercustodio@gmail.com.

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