Former Interim Police Chief Speaks Out!
Steve Staveley, former Interim Police Chief of the Costa Mesa Police Department (twice), wrote a couple comments this week on the blog entry on the post I titled, "Contemplating Calamity In Costa Mesa", HERE.
Chief Staveley has been a voice of clarity in the past. His four decade career in law enforcement leadership carries a lot weight among law enforcement agencies around the country, and among the many cities in which he has served as an employee or consultant.
PRESENTED WITH HIS PERMISSION
Because his views are very powerful I've asked for, and received, his permission to reproduce those two comments - posted yesterday - as a separate entry today. With his permission I took some editorial license - cleaned up some spelling and formatted his notes for easier reading. I added not a single word to the entries, nor did I "edit" them to attempt to change the meaning or his intended emphasis.
THE WORDS OF CHIEF STEVE STAVELEY
Published 12:40 p.m. 8/22/13
Since I left Costa Mesa as Interim Chief I have kept up with an occasional review of this blog and the Daily Pilot to see how the community and especially the department was doing. I always liked Costa Mesa and have a special affection for the CMPD and its staff. Of the 6 agencies I have worked for and the many I have worked in (management studies, team building and the like) CMPD was at the top and, frankly, a joy to watch do its work.
So I returned after a few days of work out of town to find a headline that Mr. Righeimer and Mr. Mensinger have filed a law suit against the Police Officers Association. Now was it not just a couple of weeks ago one of them said that most of the cops like what they are doing politically and administratively for the city? Seems like it was. Was it not just the other day one of them said that they like the cops and respect them, etc.? Seems like it was. I see from the DP article that they say that this suit has nothing to do with the cops, the rank and file as they say. Balderdash (thinking of another phrase, but this is polite company) .
There is no difference in this matter between the rank and file and the organization called the Police Association nor its board of directors. The board puts on their cop hat when they are working and when they sit down to do Association work they put on their association hat - same people. How do I know? Well I was an Association board member at one time in my career, and I have sat across the table from those representing the association in every position I have held for well over 20 years.
I am no friend of Lackie and Dammier et al. They are an aggressive law firm when they represent police officers and associations. Yet I will also say, that I have never seen them do anything I would call unethical or that was not in the best interests of their clients. I am sure they have made mistakes in their representation of clients, but I have not witnessed it. I have no idea if they had given instruction to Lanzillo ( the PI ) or not or if Lanzillo and his actions regarding the possible drunk driver were valid, fake, or anything else. I hope that DA Rackaukas and staff will be able to help me understand when the investigation side is completed and evaluated.
I do believe, fully based upon a good understanding of the cops and leaders involved at the CMPD, that the individual officer who responded did his/her job in a professional and sensible manner protecting the interests of the public, as well as Mr. Righeimer - it's just the way they do business. How can I say protect the interests of Mr. Righeimer? Can you imagine if a less professional individual or less experienced individual saw Mr. Righeimer after being given that call to handle and said "Well hi there. Because of who you are I am on my way" - no test, no proof, no observations if he had been drinking or not. In my view Mr. Righeimer should be thanking the cops and especially that cop for helping him prove his POLITICAL INNOCENCE. But no, for reasons that must make sense to him, he and Mr. Mensinger file suit.
I bet the lawyers are loving this. Not just those involved so far, but Jones and Mayer, maybe Jones Day its billable hours everywhere. Whatever do I mean? Well how can you file suit against the Association, and thus its membership, and then make fair decisions regarding its members on personnel matters, contract, assignments and so on? Seems to me they have opened that door and the billable hours will mount.
Published 6:57 p.m., 8/22/13
Finally, the CMPD chief has said that its hard to find good people and others have said that the political and fiscal turmoil of the past few years keeps the best of the experienced or high demand folks away. That is sure true.
The son of a friend has 3 years with a major sheriffs department (all jail) and is looking for a municipal PD. Corona PD has three openings a great reputation and hundreds of applicants including my friend's son. The young man has a handful of OUTSTANDING performance reports, a BA and is in mid 20s, married and owns a house - a very good background. Guess where he has applied - that's right - stable Corona.
CMPD has, in my professional opinion, a great chief, and one of the best leadership groups I have ever worked with - a staff of officers, supervisors, professional persons as good or better than any in So Cal or Nor Cal for that matter. But even as loyal, hard working and dedicated as these professionals are, they will eventually react negatively, leave, retire, or retire on duty when their political leadership keeps kicking them in the head and that is exactly what this suit is, a kick in the head of every member of the CMPD from the chief on down. The actions speak louder than words.
My advice for Mr. Righeimer and Mensinger ( which they did not take when I was there - but I will try again, and I won't even charge for this advice this time ) have your lawyers dismiss against the CMPOA, issue a public apology for your misunderstanding, publicly and repeatedly restate your support for building the finest police department in the county and give your chief a two year contract extension and a raise. Then maybe, just maybe, the fine people of the department can build back the department you claim you desire. You want to sue some private investigator and his former employer (Lackie, etc. ) go for it.
It takes years to build a successful police department and will take years to rebuild from here. If Mr. Righeimer and Mr Mensinger ignore my advice (as they sure have in the past), it will not get better - playing politics is not the same as leadership and growth comes from leadership, not politics. Leadership, gentlemen, leadership.
Steven H. Staveley, Director of the Division of Law Enforcement, California Department of Justice (Retired)
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