Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada abruptly retired Monday, settling a claim against the city and following calls for his resignation by the police rank-and-file and management unions.
The city announced Quezada’s retirement – and a settlement to a legal claim he filed against the city – late Monday afternoon in a press release sent to reporters.
“The chief leaves with an agreement that brings his claim to a close. The agreement is in the best interest of all involved, but as a personnel matter we are not discussing details today,” said city spokesman Mike Lyster in a statement.
The settlement is not being released to the public yet because the city attorney’s office is in the final stages of finishing it, said Lyster.
Quezada, 48, has been with the Anaheim Police Department since 1996 and became acting police chief in May 2013 before being named to the permanent position that December. He is the first Latino chief, and was named to the top post amidst unrest that followed two police-involved shootings in 2012.
Quezada’s departure comes as the city looks to fill two other top posts, for city attorney and city manager. It also comes as a spate of other Orange County law enforcement leaders step down from their posts.
Santa Ana’s police chief, Carlos Rojas, resigned in April and filed a lawsuit earlier this month claiming he was pushed out by the mayor and police union for whistleblowing.
Sheriff Sandra Hutchens announced in July she would not run for re-election next year, as her department faces state and federal probes into the use of jailhouse informants.
Meanwhile, in August the Huntington Beach Police Association voted 207-11 against Police Chief Robert Handy.
Although he has been supported strongly by Mayor Tom Tait, Quezada faced increasing opposition from the city’s police union. Eighty seven percent of rank-and-file police officers gave Quezada a vote of no confidence in August.
The Anaheim Police Association claimed Quezada lost the trust of his officers and mishandled major incidents like last year’s Ku Klux Klan rally where several people were stabbed and others arrested.
“There has been a hostile work environment for a long time in the department, and it is in a downward spiral,” the association said in a news release at the time.
Separately, Anaheim Police Management Association board members Lt. Kelly Jung and Lt. James A. Rodriguez said in a statement “it is imperative that a change with the office of Chief of Police occur immediately, and the interim Chief of Police be Julian Harvey. Currently, Julian is the Deputy Chief of Police who knows all facets of our department and our community.”
Meanwhile, in his Aug. 4 claim against the city – a precursor to a lawsuit – Quezada alleged he faced “intolerable” working conditions and a polarized police department.
Quezada claimed he repeatedly made city officials aware of misconduct by Police Capt. Jarret Young, but that Young was “untouchable,” “emboldening him (and his followers) to complain at-will about Quezada.”
In October 2016, Young distributed a memo accusing Quezada and Deputy Chief Dan Cahill of fraud and theft of public funds. The memo, written by Young, alleges Quezada and Cahill reported fewer vacation days than they actually took, meaning Quezada could have been paid more than $24,000 and Cahill could have been paid $38,000 for time they did not work.
Both an internal investigation by the city and a review by the Orange County District Attorney said there was no fraud committed.
In the city press release, Quezada said he was proud of the community police methods used by the department during his tenure.
“I’m proud of the non-traditional community engagement methods used to help us identify crime trends, maintain our outstanding safety record, improve the way of life in Anaheim and positively influence the next generation of residents,” Quezada said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said the management association held a vote of no confidence in Quezada. The management association called for a new chief but did not hold an official no confidence vote.
Contact Thy Vo at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.