Huber Sign Stakeout Gone Awry

For months, we’ve heard stories about lost campaign signs with some subtle and some not so subtle finger pointing toward the supporters of opposing campaigns. Last week, I posted an article about a property manager taking down Bob Huber’s signs claiming proper permission was not obtained. This week in the Simi Valley Acorn there’s a report of a police stakeout on a Bob Huber campaign sign at the McDonald’s on Yosemite Ave. where more signs were disappearing. The results of the stakeout concluded the signs were being removed by a McDonald’s employee:

Like clockwork, at 4:30 a.m. a man removed the signs—including ones for council incumbent Glen Becerra—putting them in the back of his pickup truck.

When Arabian confronted the man, he discovered he wasn’t a thief, but a property maintenance worker, clad in a McDonald’s shirt.

Though permission to post the signs had been granted, this worker was apparently just unaware.

It’s the nature of the crime that prompts a stakeout by the Simi Valley Police. The dollar amount of the damage combined with the identifiable pattern of the crime offers an investigator an opportunity to solve it. The signs were apparently expensive and enough were stolen to qualify this as a felony.

Santino said it’s been frustrating to see sign after sign taken down. At $65 a piece, it easily adds up to felony theft, which requires $400 or more in damages.

“We knew we were going to lose signs, but the frequency and the vast amount has just been a huge surprise,” he said. “In my opinion, some of our signs have been systematically removed because they don’t want our message out there.”

Though Santino didn’t say it, Huber’s supporters have insinuated that Sojka’s camp is behind the thefts. Sojka, who has also had dozens of signs removed, said that is “totally out of line and unfair.”

Naturally, the question I asked when I first heard this story was were they expecting to find a Steve Sojka supporter creeping around at night stealing their signs? I may never get a straight answer to that question. I can tell you that a few evenings ago, a Huber supporter was discussing his stolen signs on Facebook and is suggesting that his opponent’s supporters are the perpetrators.

And just when you think it can’t get any uglier, the phrase “inappropriate use of resources”  is heard. The Acorn article goes on to discuss the fact that an outspoken Huber for Mayor supporter volunteered to conduct the stakeout, and that his salary range and overtime pay resulted in a relatively expensive night.

Read the article at the Simi Valley Acorn by clicking here.

Was the stakeout a success? That may be a matter of perspective. The signs will likely stop disappearing now that the truth is revealed. No one pressed charges. And if you were hoping a Sojka supporter would be caught and arrested, then this was a stakeout gone awry.

As an added note, I also think City Manager Mike Sedell shows good judgment by choosing not to investigate this until after the election. While it’s easy to draw the conclusion of a conflict since the detective who chose to conduct the stakeout is a known Huber supporter, Sedell opts not to make it into an election issue. I appreciate that he can make that decision despite being a frequent target of criticism by Huber supporters.

39 thoughts on “Huber Sign Stakeout Gone Awry

  1. 7 hours of holiday weekend time-and-a-half pay to stare at a single yard sign, all by a detective seen speaking in a Bob Huber fund-raiser video. My God, no wonder property crimes are up in Simi Valley. We cannot trust these guys to make sound decisions based on what’s best for the community overall. It appears they make decisions based on what’s best for them, the police.

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  2. It is a bit sad that someone would do a stake out in the hopes of finding supporters of the “other team” taking the signs.

    My opinion has always been it’s just people not knowing they can’t do that. Probably property owners or people who think the signs are ugly.

    I mean look around, they’re everywhere. I can see why business owners or even maintenance people would want to take them down.

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  3. Settle Down, we are taking about a felony crime. The same kind of crime that raises our crime numbers. Have we sunk so low as to accuse an on duty Police Investigator of inappropriate behavior when he actually does his job and solves a crime? Really, people get over yourselves. Lets all take a breath and grow up.

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  4. Did he do his job for the right reasons though? If this were Sojka’s signs coming down constantly do you think this police officer would have been all over it wanting to do a stake out in the name of justice?

    If the cops want to investigate, more power to them, it’s their job. But it better be to serve justice and not a personal agenda. Investigating to hopefully get dirt on supporters of the other candidate just seems a bit wrong to me.

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  5. You are very, very wrong, Mike Judge. I never planned to vote for you anyway, but thanks for posting so everyone else can witness your police bias even when cops go bad.

    This particular police officer is on a video speaking on behalf of the candidate for which he would be watching the sign. That’s a clear conflict of interest. Anyone with even the slightest amount of common sense would have gone out of their way to have another officer perform the duty. Is it too much to ask our local police officers to have and apply common sense?

    Why the hurry to do it that particular day? Was it for the time-and-half holiday weekend pay? Was the pattern that signs were being stolen on holiday weekends? Was it for the glory of he himself catching a Sojka supporter in the act, and being a hero to his POA fellas?

    Aren’t holiday weekends periods of time when police resources are most pressed? Aren’t criminal acts up, drunken driving up, generally all craziness up? And this guy was sitting in a van for 7 hours?

    In the very same edition of the Acorn there is a story about how the SVPD announced that crime numbers are up for burglaries into vacant homes for sale. How about spending 7 holiday weekend pay hours on a stakeout for vacant for-sale homes? There’s a trend for you, for which applying police resources could have had a measurable impact, to perhaps lower our crime figures.

    But it appears the POA has no interest in lowering crime figures, because lower crime figures do not serve their purpose. At this point in time they prefer higher crime figures. The higher the better, because it makes incumbents look bad. Read Paul Coambs’ letter to the editor today. These guys are on a mission, working collectively, doing anything and everything they can to get what they want (regardless of whether or not we can afford it). Coambs lays out the game plan.

    Simi Valley voters should be very, very wary.

    This case belongs with the District Attorney’s Office. I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever.

    And I want to know this: how many candidates have filed police reports for stolen signs? Isn’t it mysterious how just one candidate has, and the investigator just happened to be the speaker at his fund-raiser?

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  6. There was a clear conflict of interest. It could have been solved very easily. Perception is an important part of ethics training for all government officials. Whoever assigned the officer should have picked an unbiased canidate to conduct the investigation or the very least the invetigating officer should have excused himself since he had a known bias.

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  7. Obi-Wan I deleted your comment. If you want to spar with Mike Judge, give him a real name.

    Mike Judge’s comment does seem to indicate the angle this story has taken. At first, I had anticipated the point of the story being that a costly stakeout yielded unexpected results. It appears to have gone down another road.

    One of the things the article points out is that a pattern of the thefts was identified making it plausible to believe you could catch the “thief” with a stakeout. Would there be less interest in the use of police resources if the detective weren’t a Huber supporter? Mike Judge is correct that the dollar amount of the loss represents a felony.

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  8. In keeping with the lively track this discussion is taking. Let’s look into post made by wkiepper. You are absolutely correct sir. However the Officer that is being accused of misconduct in this track is in a unit specifically set up and has the responsibility for these types of stakeout assignments. I say this to give you a little more insight into our Police Department they do not just grab random Officers out of Roll Call and tell them to set up surveillance.
    So to follow along if a citizen (Mr. Huber) files a police report alleging a Felony crime (Theft over $400.00) and he has been endorsed by the SVPOA (98%) of the Simi Valley Police Department, we should just readily assume that every Officer who attended a SVPOA meeting or a Huber fundraiser is biased and cannot conduct themselves in a manner in accordance with the oath they swore.
    Mr. T, I will gladly lose that vote to defend an Officer accused by some political hack of misconduct because he or she just doesn’t like the candidate whose signs happen to be the target of that investigation. Do you actually think that Police Officers can actually pick and choose the cases they investigate? They investigate all cases that is their job. If Mr. Sojka had made a similar complaint I can guarantee you without any doubt in my Military Mind it would have been investigated in the same zealous fashion. You may say what you want about me and get away with it but I can’t in good conscious sit by while you defame a Police Officer any Police Officer from any Department for doing their sworn duty. This was a specific target investigation the exact thing this type of unit is set up for; they had a specific location and a specific time frame. Do you have any idea the manpower necessary to stake on a random crime such as the vacant home burglaries with the number of houses vacant or for sale in our city?

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  9. Just a few days ago the Huber camp blasts Greg Clark on this and other blogs for writing a letter to the editor rather than calling the Huber campaign team to address the unwanted signs. Quick question; Did Huber’s camp call the McDonald’s owner to find out why signs were being removed before filing a police report for felony theft? Hmmm, the phone dials both ways folks…

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  10. The situation is questionable entirely. I question the validity of the crime as a felony. Sixty-five dollars spent on custom printed foam board stapled to a wooden post is astronomical. I do not believe it. Huber has exercised his influence over our police force for all to see. It is indeed questionable.

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  11. I lived in Simi Valley and raised a family there until my husband retired three years ago. I would never go back there now. All of the things I have read about the police connections and the people running for municipal office are scary. I hope that you all read your local newspapers and see that the police have a union that contributes money to their preferred candidates.

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  12. Often times, Internet forums become a thrashing ground for ill-informed people to expound upon that which they have neither qualification nor sound information. Other times it is just silly stuff like Judy, who is afraid because “…the police have a union that contributes money to their preferred candidates.”

    Then there is G. Pinnard who questions “…the validity of the crime as a felony.” So, Pinnard believes that the Huber campaign filed a false theft report, a misdemeanor, and that the Simi Valley Police Department is in some sort of collusion with Bob Huber, who, according to Pinnad, “…has exercised his influence over our police force for all to see.”

    The real scary thing is that some of these people vote.

    Just so everyone is clear, Lt. Stephanie Shannon, who is quoted in the Acorn article, stands squarely behind her subordinate, Sgt. Arabian. Lt. Shannon is not a member of the Simi Valley Police Officer’s Association. She is a member of the police department management team and she reports to a captain, who reports to the chief. The latter two managers are not SVPOA members either. None of the management team have anything to do with the endorsement of Bob Huber.

    According to the Acorn article, Sojka and Becerra are concerned about the police department expending funds for a trivial matter of political sign theft.

    We know that Lt. Shannon approved of the investigation “…in a complete leadership decision.” That means the Lt. Shannon’s superiors approve of the investigation.

    City Manager Mike Sedell is playing the cool head and stated that the city will look into the matter after the election. Sedell stated, “At this point there is strictly an allegation of an appearance of conflict and it’s not a continuing pattern of allegations. Based on that, we don’t ignore it, but I don’t intend to create an election issue over allegations.”

    The rumor that I heard is that Sedell is fuming over the surveillance investigation. That seems to be corroborated by Lt. Shannon’s statement, “I personally find it offensive that someone over at city hall has tried to spin (this),” she said. “Because my integrity test is if any other candidate had come to us with a felonious level crime and we could have established a pattern, we would have done the exact same thing.”

    In my letter to the Simi Acorn editor published today, Council has failed in regard to safety, I report that I heard that an incumbent councilman is looking to throw the police chief “under the bus.” From this Acorn sign theft article, it looks as if Sojka, Becerra and Sedell are setting the groundwork to discredit the chief for spending needless money and pave the way for his termination of employment. None of these 3 people give two hoots about a $500 expenditure.

    When the chief is fired, which might be disguised as a retirement, the council can wash their hands of the debacle with the police officers’ association and blame it all on the chief. That would be an example of politics at its Simi Valley sleaziest.

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  13. Wow, Paul, interesting take.

    Frankly, if there were any transgressions, it would be a personnel matter, not an issue for political gain. Without speaking out of school, there are ample safeguards built into the system and that system is confidential and not a proper matter for the press.

    What I will say is that I know everyone involved and I can vouch for their highest integrity. Based upon character alone, I believe that the involved persons thought they were doing the right thing.

    Now, as for the Lieutenant’s published comments, I can say I served two days suspension for saying far less in the press. We have public affairs officers for a reason.

    Mitch

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  14. I do think the police should investigate these matters, because frankly people shouldn’t be stealing signs, that’s immature. I just think they should have thought a bit about who they assigned to do it and to act like they couldn’t put someone else on it? Seriously we all know they could have. I would think the officer would have thought that far ahead as well, how would this look for the candidate I support? So sadly it seems to have backfired.

    But I’ve always maintained that more times than not signs being taken down are more misunderstandings than anything. Just people not realizing they can’t do that.

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  15. Mitch, you are quite correct about the liability of speaking to the press when employed by the City of Simi Valley. That is why after filing my grievance in the police department about the department’s refusal to assist other law enforcement agencies asking for assistance on terrorist related investigations in Simi Valley that I did not go public until I retired.

    Truth be known, the need to go public accelerated my retirement date. Not that it has done any good!

    On the other hand, leaving the employ of the City early was the best thing I ever did for myself, even though it cost me in retirement pay.

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  16. This website needs full disclosure from Mr. Coambs.

    Paul Coambs wrote this in his letter to the Acorn on Friday, Oct. 1, indicating his desire for what could be considered a Simi Valley Police Officers’ Union Reich:

    “Throw out the two incumbents running for reelection and reject the incumbent running for mayor. Go after the remainder in the next election.”

    —–

    Here’s a snippet from an article when Coambs started to pile on in the Acorn when the police officers union went after our police chief when they did not get what they wanted during their contract negotiations in 2009 (this was after the police officers union scared the children of a Council member by picketing his private residence on a Saturday morning):

    “The chief did not put much merit in Coambs’ concerns, saying that they were coming from a disgruntled former employee who didn’t like the new direction the administration was taking with the intelligence function.

    ‘Paul Coambs’ comments now and his sentiments are pretty much sour grapes . . . so now at this point, when he is retired from the agency, he is being critical of what took place over the past couple years or longer,’ Lewis said.

    He added that he believes the intelligence function has become more efficient and responsive.

    ‘With him leaving, we’ve gone from what was one detective handling intelligence functions to four officers that are now crosstrained to do this,’ he said. ‘So we have greater redundancy, and we have greater availability, and we have more people trained in this ability . . . so operationally it was a better thing to do.’

    A cross-section of officers is receiving training through a Terrorism Liaison Officer program, and the department belongs to a regional clearinghouse of intelligence information, Lewis said.

    Regardless, Coambs filed a written complaint about his issues with the department in May, but he said not much came of it. After he retired on Oct. 2, Coambs went to Miller with his concerns.

    He said the mayor was shocked to learn the information. Miller said that’s not exactly accurate.

    ‘(Intelligence) was his whole world, and I think he just thought there had to be more. Whatever it was, it was never enough,’ the mayor said.”

    —–

    Thanks for retiring, Mr. Coambs. I feel safer with the knowledge that we now have four cross-trained officers watching for terrorist attacks on Simi Valley, willing to try new things, instead of one guy stuck in his old ways.

    Here’s a general summary. Here was a person who was king of the hill in the counterterrorism world in Simi Valley for an eternity until modern counterterrorism advancements passed him by. Change is hard; no reason to be bitter about it.

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  17. Mike T’s latest comments are a perfect example of a person pontificating without knowledge. He has no credibility in asserting anything on the police department, especially the intelligence function.

    For those who wish acquaint themselves with the facts, read the Acorn article referenced. You can go to the Simi Acorn and search by my name. Start with the article done on me and the intelligence function many years ago.

    Lewis’ assertions that I was a disgruntled employee are just the stuff that appeals to ill-informed, opinionated people.

    Any astute reader can see that Mayor Miller, City Manager Sedell and Chief Lewis did not even try to refute my allegation that the SVPD refused to assist outside law enforcement agencies four times when they asked for assistance in terrorist investigations of people in Simi Valley.

    Several years before my retirement, I unsuccessfully floated the concept of training a new intelligence officer well before my retirement so that there would be a seamless transition to a new officer.

    Chief Lewis’ statements about the intelligence function at the time were half-truths and misstatements. His assertion that he merged the intelligence function into the narcotics section is factually incorrect. That was done by his predecessor, Chief Layhew. What is there to think about a chief who takes credit for something that he did not do?

    If you take Chief Lewis’ statements at face value, you might think that he understands about the intelligence function and the need for it. That is not the case.

    When I retired, the already degraded intelligence function was given to a homicide detective as a secondary responsibility. That means that a detective with an already full plate was supposed to be competent in another field. That is pure ignorance or incompetence since the detective was not intelligence school trained nor given time to carry out investigations.

    Those “four cross-trained” officers received a one day class in the Terrorism Liaison Officer program. It is a program designed for patrol officers to interface with other officers in the event that an officer comes upon something suspicious that might be terrorism related. The function is to forward the information to federal authorities. That’s a far cry from intelligence work.

    Mike T wouldn’t know the truth of Lewis’ or my assertions, but that doesn’t stop him from speaking ignorantly. His last paragraph is the proof. Intelligence work is not counter-terrorism. Terrorism investigations are only one facet of intelligence work and it is not counter-terrorism per-say. Mike T’s gratuitous piling on about the nonsensical “modern counterterrorism advancements” makes me wonder about who this character is.

    What a stupid assertion to say that I am bitter about change and “stuck in old ways.” I am not bitter about anything. I am retired; the intelligence function at SVPD is not my personal responsibility. But, it is my concern as a resident of the city.

    I am sounding the alarm for the community that I live in. And, I started sounding the alarm well before I retired.

    If Mike T feels safer now that I retired, good for him. Ignorance is bliss.

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  18. Now that we have gotten to the point of expending city resources to investigate stolen signs, it’s time to change the sign ordinance, at least in commercial areas. Candidates should be required to get written permission from property owners to post on their property. This written documentation should be constructed in such a manner that would assist the police in investigations if theft were to occur (which seems to happen every election season). Hopefully, the police will now do a little more investigative work prior to conducting another stakeout.

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  19. Agreed that counter-terrorism was not the proper term to use. That was an error; thank your the correction. Everything else stands. I am happy the post attracted more than 500 words to bring out what usually happens when you disagree with a disgruntled local police officer: they belittle you by calling you names and challenging your intelligence.

    Nevertheless, I will continue posting here as an ill-informed character speaking ignorantly making stupid assertions. I will continue to pontificate about whether taxpayers should shoulder the cost of paying for a full-time police officer position to spend all of his time (and most likely plenty of OT) to ensure there is not a terrorist attack in Simi Valley, when we have more than one federal government agency charged with this very same task.

    There are a lot of things the federal government is supposed to do, such as stop illegal immigration. It’s a slippery slope for the City to start funding programs to perform duties the feds are supposed to perform.

    On another note, I want to be clear that I believe and actually know we have very, very fine police officers in Simi Valley. Extremely good officers, and a vast majority of them are great men and women on and off duty, involved with our community, friendly, easy to speak with. That said, the thrust of the comments on this particular post by Mike Chandler is on a sign stakeout. I still firmly believe there was an error in judgment in allowing this particular officer to perform the work, considering his position with the police officers’ union and his appearance in Bob Huber’s fund-raiser video.

    Here’s what I suggest: every single candidate right now should file police reports about their own missing signs. No doubt everyone has lost at least $400 worth of signs. Now that the precedent has been set for this type of investigation level, the SVPD will have no choice but to present the same level of investigation to each and every case, for each and every candidate. This should keep that officer in his van the rest of the election season.

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  20. Mike T said, “This website needs full disclosure from Mr. Coambs.” OK, fair enough, though anyone who has acquainted himself with the Acorn articles, letters to the editor and postings on VSV probably has a fair idea of me. Nevertheless, I will fully disclose more information than you probably ever wanted to know.

    Disclosure:
    30 years in law enforcement: 8 years at the Pasadena Police Department and 22 years at SVPD

    20 years as the SVPD Criminal Intelligence Detective.

    I was hired at SVPD by then Chief Paul Miller, now SV Mayor Paul Miller.

    I worked directly for Chief Miller as the Intelligence Detective from 1989-1994, until Miller retired.

    Intelligence cases at SVPD included: traditional organized crime (mafia); non-traditional organized crime including outlaw motorcycle gangs; skin heads, militias; international terrorism; gambling and money laundering; ritual crime, Asian prostitution; domestic disorder groups; animal rights activists; eco-terrorists; narcotics; police corruption; threat assessments; and public demonstrations.

    I prepared yearly Intelligence Projections for the city council for most of the 20 years.

    I was an active participant and board member in a number of local and national intelligence sharing organizations on organized crime, ritual crime, outlaw motorcycle gangs, and general criminal intelligence.

    During Chief Paul Miller’s tenure, I was the sole SVPD representative on a task force investigating police corruption in the form of bookmaking run out of an Inglewood PD off-site location and involving both Inglewood PD and SVPD personnel.

    In the early 90’s, I joined the Los Angeles Terrorist Task Force investigation of the Simi Valley component of what was then the most dangerous guerrilla terrorist organization in the world.

    In 1994, At Chief Paul Miller’s retirement, he presented to me a plaque that read, “With thanks and appreciation for your friendship and support and for ferreting out the evil-doers in our community.”

    I was a member of FBI and ATF formal task forces investigating gambling/money laundering and an outlaw motorcycle gang respectively.

    I was a sworn U.S. Marshal twice.

    I held a national security clearance with the FBI.

    Beginning in 2001, I had a national security case in Simi Valley with the Ventura office of the FBI and subsequently the Los Angeles Terrorist Task Force that lasted for a number of years.

    I received two commendations from the Director of the FBI in 2004 and 2006 for my participation in two in-depth investigations.

    I assisted with numerous outside law enforcement investigations, most consistently with the Ventura County Sheriffs Office, the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Office, the Ventura County DA’s Office, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Santa Barbara Sheriffs Office, the ATF, the FBI, and the IRS, each of which had an investigative nexus or component in Simi Valley.

    I prepared threat assessments and ran undercover operations on numerous functions and visits by dignitaries at the Ronald Reagan Library including the inauguration of the Library and the presence of the four extant presidents, the burial of Ronald Reagan, and the visit by Pres. Bush at the opening of the Air Force One display. I ran a surveillance team and partnered with an FBI surveillance team on round-the-clock surveillance of Simi residents considered a potential national security threat to a Library function. I was the sole SVPD representative partnering with the Secret Service and Ventura SO intelligence personnel on numerous Library functions.

    I ran undercover operations and/or prepared threat assessments on: two white supremacist demonstrations subsequent to the Rodney King incident; numerous animal activist demonstrations; outlaw motorcycle gang events in the City; a visit and demonstration by a member of the Ku Klux Klan, a right to life demonstration, and numerous individuals who were potential threats to the police department and City personnel.

    I worked a variety of semi-covert investigations.

    I assisted the SVPD general detective and narcotics units’ investigations with surveillance and wire-tap support.

    I was a member of a multistate intelligence group focusing on outlaw motorcycle gangs. And, I participated in numerous covert operations at public and private gatherings where outlaw motorcycle gangs frequented.

    I instructed on hate crimes and victimization at the Ventura County Criminal Justice Training Center.

    I instructed at the Simi Valley Citizen Academy on the criminal intelligence function.

    I instructed on criminal intelligence analysis for FIAT, a national intelligence training program.

    I lectured to local community groups on the criminal intelligence function and hate crimes.

    The last three years of my career I carried the intelligence function while working as a full time narcotics detective.

    When Chief Lewis was about to take the helm at SVPD, I contacted Mayor Miller and advised him of the degradation of the intelligence function begun by Chief Layhew. Miller, who previously was a strong supporter of the intelligence function, reassured me that he would emphasize the importance of the intelligence function to the new chief and assure the viability of a functioning intelligence section. No reform ever came from Chief Lewis so either Miller lied to me or the Chief disregarded the Mayor’s instructions.

    Soon after Mike Lewis became the Chief of Police, a nationally renowned municipal criminal intelligence expert met with the chief and explained to him the importance of a functioning intelligence unit.

    When no reform occurred after the intelligence expert’s visit, I arranged for a federal intelligence operative to address Chief Lewis, his staff and other police officers on the status of national security threats as they pertain to Simi Valley. The operative advised that subjects are here in Simi Valley and that the SVPD better address it. The message fell on deaf ears and the degradation of the intelligence function continued.

    In May 2009, I filed a grievance with the SVPD because the police administration degraded the intelligence function by prioritizing narcotics investigations over intelligence. I also grieved the fact that the police management refused outside law enforcement agencies four times when they asked for the help of the SVPD intelligence detective to assist with their national security investigations on SV residents or business owners. I grieved the fact that SVPD had agreed to become an active participant in the Terrorism Liaison Program headed locally by the Ventura County SO and after more than two years had not made any appreciable progress toward the goal. I grieved the fact that the SVPD management refused the Ventura FBI’s request to have the SVPD Intelligence Detective work part-time on the new ad-hoc terrorist task force. I grieved the fact that SVPD stopped sending me to annual national or state intelligence training, which is of paramount importance in forming and maintaining professional intelligence contacts. I grieved the fact that SVPD had removed me from the department contact list for the national Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit, which I had held for 19 years, and replaced me with a number of officers, who had neither intelligence training nor inclination for the function. I grieved the fact that SVPD was planning to move the intelligence function out of the Special Investigations Unit and into the general detective unit upon my retirement and further degrade the function. I grieved the fact that SVPD made no effort to train a replacement intelligence detective. I did not expect for SVPD management to rectify any of my grievances. The reason that I filed the grievances was to officially put the police department on notice of the deficiencies and to create a paper trail that could not be denied after I retired. There was no accommodation to my grievances other than putting me back on the LEIU contact list.

    I retired from SVPD in October 2009, four months after I filed the grievance.

    The day after my retirement, I met with Mayor Paul Miller in his home. I advised Mayor Miller of my grievance concerns. I told Miller that I wanted the City Council to pass a resolution declaring that it is the policy of the City of Simi Valley to work cooperatively with all law enforcement agencies on investigations of mutual interest. My intent was to put the police department on notice that it can’t continue to refuse assistance in national security investigations. My intent was to insure that an active intelligence function be reinstated at SVPD and that SVPD provide the maximum effort to protect its citizens. Miller refused my request, but he stated that within 2 months he would have the police department present a “staff briefing” on the intelligence function to the council in open forum. A year later, the briefing has not occurred.

    During the next couple of weeks after my visit with Mayor Miller, we exchanged several e-mails and Miller angrily accused me of threatening him. I suppose the threat was that it was my intent to go public with the story if Miller and the Council did not do something substantive. I haven’t communicated with Miller since.

    In December 2009, I wrote a letter to the Simi Valley Acorn editor detailing the SVPD refusal to assist with outside national security investigations. The Acorn elected to run an article on my allegations on 12/11/09 instead of my letter to the editor. The Acorn solicited comments from Mayor Miller, City Manager Sedell and Chief Lewis. None of the three refuted my allegations, but they did engage in character assassination and alleged that I was a disgruntled ex-employee with “sour grapes.” That speaks volumes.

    I am honored to have authored the chapter on intelligence collection for the soon to be published Intelligence in the Twenty First Century. The book is a collaborative effort of intelligence experts far more renowned than me.

    I have a blog entitled, SheepDog Barking at http://sheepdogbarking.blogspot.com/
    The Sheep Dog analogy comes from the work of Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, Ret., wherein he divides humans into the majority Sheep, the Wolves that predate upon the Sheep, and the Sheep Dogs that protect the Sheep from the Wolves. The Sheep are distinguished from the Sheep Dogs by the fact that it is the latter who run toward the gunfire. I added a fourth category, the Jackals, who are police officers who have abandoned their Constitutional oath of office and no longer work to the benefit of the Sheep, nor support the Sheep Dogs. There are plenty of Jackals as evidenced by the national group of law enforcement and military officers known as the Oath Keepers, who have sworn not to follow unconstitutional orders from their superiors. I developed a unique law enforcement battle cry or utterance, Uu-ah!, similar to those of the military to signify brotherhood and solidarity among comrades and anything except no. The SheepDog motto is “Uu-ah Sheepdogs! Hunt the Wolf and the Jackal.”

    Intelligence Function:
    With the exception of the narcotics investigations, none of the intelligence investigations fall within the expertise or professional competence of any other section in SVPD. That is not to say that any good detective with good interpersonal skills and the aptitude for the tradecraft could not do the job. Quite the contrary; with lots of training and time in place to develop professional contacts, the detective can do the job. After all, that’s where intelligence detectives normally come from.

    Intelligence investigations are not about catching a criminal after the fact. It is about detecting and predicting future criminal acts. It is a whole different mindset from most police work, and it requires a specific aptitude. Intelligence work is not for everyone, neither is narcotics work.

    The most competent detective group that could assume an intelligence function is narcotics detectives because they already possess most of the tradecraft needed for the function. But, that does not mean that a general detective can’t convert his thinking to the intelligence mode, as well.

    To become competent in the intelligence field, it is necessary to spend a lot of time in place to develop the professional and private contacts necessary to learn the information. People, even police officers, must become comfortable and trust the intelligence detective before they will disclose sensitive information. Chief Lewis instituted a mandatory job rotation program for all detective functions, which will terminate an intelligence detective’s job just as the detective has had the time to become highly efficient.

    Following my retirement, the movement of the intelligence function out of the Special Investigation Section (narcotics) into the general detectives further degraded the function because general detectives do not have covert cars and surveillance training to optimally perform. The general detective who assumed the intelligence function is an outstanding detective with loads of expertise that he garnered on his own initiative without the support of SVPD, he is hampered by a heavy homicide and violence against persons case load and no covert assistance nor equipment. The current detective assigned the intelligence function, such as it is, is about to be promoted to sergeant. Once again, SVPD did not prepare a replacement. There is one patrol officer who is qualified for the position since he came to SVPD with intelligence experience from another police agency. But, why would he want a responsibility for a function that is not supported by the department?

    Simi Valley PD was once nationally acclaimed in the criminal intelligence field chiefly due to the work of now retired Captain Dick Wright.

    The intelligence function is community policing at its best. But, without the city council and police chief’s buy-in the function withers.

    The reader can make up his own mind as to whether or not Simi Valley benefited by the last 20 years of the intelligence function. I’ll bet most readers had no idea as to the extent of crime swirling around and within the city. Without intelligence reform, SVPD is becoming a backwater agency in modern intelligence police work.

    Care to tell us about your expertise, Mike T?

    Like

  21. “they did engage in character assassination and alleged that I was a disgruntled ex-employee with “sour grapes.””

    Imagine such a thing . . . . Maybe you should run for City Council next time out. You’re already past the worst of the allegations.

    “[D]isgruntled ex-employee.” Some might say that tag line is used on every ex-employee who tries to do something positive for the community.

    Like

  22. I fail to see how any of this rectifies the situation in the aforementioned story of this absurd stakeout. How many more Huber supporting cops are going to answer his beck and call before someone does something about this? The CM’s decision to WAIT before investigating this matter is ludicrous.

    Like

  23. G. Pinnard,

    You’d be well advised to disregard the statement by City Manager Sedell that he is going to wait until after the election to investigate the sign theft incident. You will recall that Sedell stated that he did not want to make the incident an election issue. First, the latter statement is absurd because Glen Becerra and Steve Sojka quickly made it an election issue with their statements to the Acorn. Second, those who know state that there has been more than one extended meeting on the issue by Sedell, who personally interviewed the sergeant. Third, the police department management stood by the position that the investigation was appropriate. Fourth, Sedell forbid the police department from investigating any further sign thefts. Fifth, Sedell put the entire sign issue in the hands of Code Enforcement.

    Sounds to me like the management of the police department, which has no ties to the Police Officers Association, stood up to the city manager.

    I’d bet that Sedell’s investigation is done, and he is mad because the police department refused to disregard the tenants of fair and proper law enforcement instead of supporting Sedell’s employers. Now why could it be that Sedell is mad? Do you suppose that if there is a significant change on the council that Sedell’s highly lucrative job is in jeopardy?

    Like

  24. Recalling back to the 1986 election here in town, weren’t certain officers of the SVPD found guilting of Civil Rights Violations in Federal Court for using their badges to deprive selected citizens of their civil rights during a Municipal election? As I recall, it involved pulling cars over for having bumper stickers supporting a paricular ballot measure that the POA was opposed to. Perhaps the POA should read the case before doing too many more stake-outs.

    Like

  25. HistoryRepeats:

    Your comment above makes me think not of the year 1986, but of the book 1984 by George Orwell.

    If there were officers in 1986 found to be interfering in a Municipal election by wrongfully stopping cars with certain bumper stickers, no one would disagree that would be wrong.

    For the same reasons, it would be wrong to fail to investigate a property crime simply because the loss is to a particular candidate. Removal of signs also interferes with a Municipal election and is wrongful conduct. By now, everyone understands that the actor was an unknowing employee who didn’t realize the signs were up with permission. This was NOT known when the investigation began.

    If our Police Department had FAILED to act, and allowed what appeared to be criminal behavior to continue, wouldn’t that open the Department up to criticism as well? There is no suggestion that the Police are investigating only one candidate’s missing signs. There is no suggestion that the Police acted improperly when the truth was discovered. In short, there is no evidence the Police did anything other than investigate a report of property losses that collectively could have amounted to a felony.

    Your equating affirmative negative acts (harassing motorists to affect an election) with affirmative positive acts (investigation to stop apparent criminal acts affecting an election) is akin to Orwellian 1984 doublespeak. You would appear to owe the Department an apology for trying to cast them in a false light.

    Like

  26. History-no that is not true. Read the case yourself.

    Edward SLOMAN, Plaintiff-Appellee,
    v.
    Philip TADLOCK; David Allen; Roger Douglas; Pat Sardella,
    aka Mr. Whitaker; Matthew Obertone; Neil Rein;
    Simi Valley Police Department, Defendants,
    and
    City of Simi Valley; Herman Hale, Defendants-Appellants.
    Nos. 92-55597, 92-55692 and 92-55851.
    United States Court of Appeals,
    Ninth Circuit.

    Like

  27. Hi Paul,

    What reason does the city manager have to be mad? If the department management informs him that the investigation was purely legitimate, shouldn’t that simply close the matter? Why would that cause the city manager to be mad?

    Also, when you say his job is in jeopardy resulting from change on the city council, are you saying that if Bob Huber is elected, he may move to fire the city manager?

    Like

  28. Paul, wrong again, but not a shock considering your prior posts. Officer Herman “Butch” Hale was found guilty and the City paid about $100,000 in damages.

    Like

  29. Mike,

    You don’t think I’m the only one who sees senior management change in the wind, do you?

    Some people just ain’t gonna work for other people. Not the other way around.

    Whatever works is what I say.

    Like

  30. History Repeats-considering my prior posts? What does that mean? Care to disprove anything that I wrote? Or do you just excel at throwing stuff on the wall to see what sticks?

    You alleged officers and only Hale was found guilty of anything. If you care to read the Ninth Circuit you will clearly see that the City escaped damages because there was no evidence of any other city employee involved.

    You gratuitously threw in the “POA” and alleging that the SVPOA would be interested in a hillside ordinance is ludicrous.

    You are so disconnected that I suspect that you are Mike T.

    Like

  31. history.repeats is most definitely not Mike T.

    Regardless of the details of the 1986 police involvement in the campaign, it does illustrate that when local police officers diddle in local political affairs, it can become costly for taxpayers.

    The article below does not tell the whole story, because I am fairly certain Sloman still won his case but his personal end reward ended up being significantly reduced, to something like $250.

    Perhaps the biggest thing in this whole article is the very last line. This is the type of information that folks like Mr. Coambs ignore when they say “escaped damages.”

    $130,000 in 1991-1992 dollars is a lot of damage. In today’s dollars, probably at least a quarter-million dollars worth of damages.

    (BTW, Sloman was supporting Measures A and B, which Bob Huber actively opposed by supporting the less-restrictive and City Council-supported Measures D and E. The police and Huber were on the same side in the 1986 campaign, too).

    Los Angeles Times, February 21, 1992, Friday, Ventura County Edition

    VENTURA COUNTY NEWS ROUNDUP: SIMI VALLEY;
    DEMONSTRATOR WINS AWARD FOR DAMAGES

    By CARLOS V. LOZANO

    A federal court jury has awarded a Simi Valley man $35,350 in damages in connection with a lawsuit he recently won against the city claiming he had been harassed by a police officer while demonstrating for a slow-growth initiative.

    The jury awarded the damages to Edward Sloman during a brief hearing Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

    “I feel great,” Sloman said. “It’s not just a victory for me. It’s a victory for the people of Simi Valley.”

    Bert Deixler, the attorney representing Simi Valley in the case, said the city plans to file an appeal within the next 30 days.

    “This will not stand,” Deixler said of the award.

    Earlier this month, the same jury found that Officer Herman Hale had violated the civil rights of Sloman when he was arrested in 1986.

    Hale arrested Sloman at an Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce auto show at a public park, where Sloman carried a sign in support of a slow-growth ballot measure. At the time, the chamber was supporting a less restrictive measure.

    A worker at the auto show placed Sloman under citizen’s arrest on suspicion of trespassing. State law requires an officer to arrest an individual who has been placed under citizen’s arrest.

    But Sloman contended in his lawsuit that Hale had orchestrated his arrest as a ploy to get him and his sign away from the auto show.

    Sloman, 53, said he had originally asked for $40,000 in damages, but that he was not concerned with the amount of the award.
    “This has never been a money issue,” he said. “I’m very happy with the award. At every stage of this, I have been right and the city has been wrong.”

    The city has already spent more than S130,000 in attorney’s fees to defend the police officer, officials said. CARLOS V. LOZANO

    Like

  32. Mike T fails to say that the City has the option of spending attorney fees to defend its position or settle the case out of court. The City makes that determination based upon projected cost, its assessment of its ability to win a case, and/or whether or not the issue in question warrants a vigorous defense based upon expected future events. In the Sloman litigation, the City opted to fight the case and that decision was expected to cost plenty. It is an expected cost of doing business for the City. Perhaps the City thought Officer Hale did nothing wrong.

    Attempts by Mike T and History Repeats (be they the same person or not, we don’t know because neither has the courage to use his/her true name-makes me wonder what they have to hide) to link the Sloman trial, the SVPOA and Bob Huber in the 80’s is nothing more than a current day attempt to smear both the SVPOA and Huber.

    In the Acorn article last December, City Manager Sedell, Mayor Miller and Chief Lewis might have learned that taking cheap shots and character assassination did not put them in a favorable light or enhance their position when they could not refute my allegations about police department irresponsibility and failures with the intelligence program. People like Mike T don’t have that problem by hiding behind the skirts of anonymity.

    The democratic process of political discussion is not enhanced by pseudonym use, as demonstrated by the recent discovery that pseudonym users were playing both sides of the fence on VSV. Pseudonym posting doesn’t have to be dishonest, but it sure allows dishonest bomb throwers a venue to vent their spleen. I urge Mike Chandler to ban those who comment under a pseudonym since they have the ability to impugn and discredit without taking any personal responsibility for their statements. Pseudonym users diminish the value of VSV.

    Like

  33. Some of us wish to participate fully in the democratic process but have jobs to consider, and jobs are scarce at the moment if you have not noticed. It would be nice to be retired and post under a real name without fear of the threat of retribution.

    At least with the free posting of comments, the public can be presented with research to see great commentary such as this from the Managing Editor of the Ventura County Star:

    Ventura County Star (California), January 17, 2010 Sunday

    An ugly stain on public-employee unions

    SECTION: OPINION

    By Joe Howry

    In college, I wrote a paper arguing that the rise of effective labor unions prevented Communism from gaining a foothold in this country. The nut of my argument was that from the dawn of the Industrial Age to World War II working conditions were so deplorable that for most American workers, Communism held great appeal. Labor unions, I argued, were able to counteract that appeal by giving workers a voice and improving conditions.

    It was nothing short of a manifesto in support of labor unions. It also was an act of rebellion. My dad loathed unions. As a department store manager, he bitterly fought against unionizing efforts in his stores, believing the unions had become so powerful that, once they got in, they thwarted his ability to manage his store effectively.

    I had heard his tirades against unions most of my life but found myself sympathetic to them when I learned about the horrendous conditions many workers were forced to work under. Adding fuel to my feelings were the brutal tactics used by companies, aided by the government, to prevent unions from organizing and acting collectively to improve conditions.

    Over the course of my career, I have been on both sides of this fence. I remember the anger I felt toward management for what I believed was their insensitivity and unrelenting focus on profits above all else. On the other side, as a manager, I’m keenly aware of how difficult it can be to manage in a unionized organization.
    With that kind of ambivalence, I was a little surprised at my reaction to a story we ran about the Simi Valley Police Officers’ Association forming a political action committee to raise funds to be used to influence city elections. It irritated me, just as the efforts of the Ventura police union to unseat Councilman Neal Andrews irritated me during the fall elections.

    The tactics used by the Simi police union during the just-concluded and contentious contract negotiations with the city did little to enhance its reputation and sent a clear, unmistakable message about how it plans to use the money raised by the PAC.

    The chairman of the PAC, Kevin Duncan, tried to make the fundraising sound completely innocent, saying there was no plan to campaign against the three incumbents up for re-election – Mayor Paul Miller, Councilwoman Michelle Foster and Councilman Glen Becerra.

    I’m sure Councilman Becerra sees it as anything but innocent. How intimidating it must have been for him and his family to have off-duty police officers protesting in front of his home during the negotiations. Certainly, Becerra and his family had to wonder what would happen if they needed police help.

    In much the same manner, the Ventura police union didn’t distinguish itself in its efforts to unseat Councilman Andrews. And what was Andrews’ sin? He had the audacity to seek pension reform among public employees, including police. The union’s tactics against Andrews included an attack push poll and highly questionable, if not downright false, accusations about his travel expenses. Mean-spirited, dirty tactics don’t meet the expectations one would have for an organization representing police officers.

    It is alarming the power that public-employee unions have gained throughout California. From teachers to prison guards to police officers to rank-and-file government employees, the unions that represent them wield enormous political clout. But, unlike unions in the private sector who fight for greater shares of companies’ profits, public-employee unions fight to tap into what many consider to be an unlimited source of money: the taxpayers.

    No one should deny their right to do so, nor should anyone seek to take that right away. Working for the public, however, carries with it a degree of responsibility. It is a service that has never promised great financial rewards, but in return did offer tremendous job security and generous health and retirement benefits, some of which were negotiated by the unions. That generosity, however, threatens the financial future of our cities and counties as well as the state.

    As public employees have become siloed in their respective unions, the ideas of service and responsibility have been replaced by a sense of entitlement to get as much as possible in wages and benefits, regardless of the consequences to the well-being of the public. For all the good labor unions have done for this country, the politicization of public employees is a stain on their legacy.

    That is what irritates me the most about the activities of the Ventura and Simi police unions. Their members are endowed by the public with unparalleled trust and support. It’s not right that they would use these wonderful gifts to further narrow objectives and personal gain.

    Like

  34. Mike Chandler,

    I’ll answer your first question of why City Manager Sedell might be mad with a question. Do you suppose that Sedell has a vested interest in seeing the incumbents retained in office? And, here’s the second question for you. Do you suppose that something other than the best interest of the citizens might come into play? I’ll give an example of the latter later herein.

    To answer your second question as to whether Bob Huber would fire the city manager, I have two answers. First, I don’t speak for Bob Huber. Second, I have no idea whether or not Bob Huber would fire the city manager. As to whether or not the city manager should be fired consider this story of which I have personal knowledge.

    Let me say that as the Intelligence Detective for Simi Valley, I had a number of occasions to interact with City Manager Mike Sedell. I found him to be a congenial person who performed professionally. I had no personal conflicts with him.

    The established procedure in the police department for employee grievances is for the police department to try and mediate the situation to the best interest of the organization and the employee. However, if the employee is not satisfied with the police department resolution, the employee is accorded the right to appeal directly to the city manager, who makes a determination. During the latter portion of my tenure at SVPD, I understand that the city manager was inundated with grievances from police employees. In other words, the police administration failed in its leadership responsibility.

    Cities deliberately under staff police departments and resort to paying overtime because it is much less expensive than hiring additional personnel. In the case of SVPD, a large amount of overtime is expended in the patrol function to keep the minimum number of cars on the road at any one time.

    A mechanism to reduce patrol overtime is to require non-patrol officers to fill patrol vacancies so that the department does not have to post overtime positions. This mechanism overburdens detectives because it inhibits their work on their case load and continues to stack the case loads higher as the detective is off in patrol.

    Some agencies have run afoul of local requirements to not move personnel at their whim. A clever mechanism to get around restrictions is to claim that the rotation back to patrol is for training so that all sworn personnel can be prepared for field work in case of an emergency. In the case of SVPD, the scheme was called “Back to Basics” a few years ago. Now it is called, “Field Preparedness” or something of the sort. The latest excuse is that non-patrol sworn officers need to be able to use the patrol-in-car computers, which are always changing. Up to date one day, out of date the next.

    The Special Investigation Section (narcotics and intelligence) was not exempted from the rotation which required them to cut hair, shave beards and “clean-up” to work in uniform in patrol. In 2009, the entire SIS unit, including the supervisor, signed a grievance objecting to the back to patrol rotation.

    The reason for the SIS objection was because the unit works in a covert and semi-covert capacity. It is the only unit at SVPD that has the capability. Needless to say, the idea of covert is to not be identified as the police. This is the unit that is charged with being within public demonstrations that have a potential for violence. This is the unit that is charged with sensitive investigations. This is the unit that must conduct surveillances. This is the unit that must transport and introduce citizen informants into potentially dangerous locations. This is the unit that is charged with insuring the personal safety of the informants.

    The SIS detectives make a deliberate attempt to look like and fit into the environments that they investigate. Therefore, clean shaven and short hair doesn’t cut the mustard.

    The SIS filed the grievance because the police department requirement to work patrol 2 weeks a year significantly increases the potential that the detective would later identified as a police officer when he is back in his covert assignment. You don’t get a long vacation to grow that stuff back and even then there is a greater liability to recognition because of recent public contact. The SIS filed the grievance because the potential for the detective to be identified increases the personal risk of the informants.

    The police department refused to accommodate the grievance, and it was referred to the city manager. CM Sedell met with the entire SIS unit and a representative of human resources. Sedell listened respectively, questioned intelligently and agreed with the SIS position. Then at the end of his sentence of agreement, he stated, “…but I don’t want to give the Chief a loss.”

    CM Sedell agreed that the requirement to go back to patrol was unwise. CM Sedell agreed that learning the in-car computer in a class room setting would be an acceptable accommodation to the department’s asserted need. CM Sedell recognized that the small SIS team would not significantly impact the reduction of patrol overtime. CM Sedell recognized the personal danger to both the detectives and the informants. Then he threw it all away in favor of his subordinate, the chief of police.

    For my money, CM Sedell did not act in the best interest of the community nor the employees. He was more concerned with his police chief. In such a clear cut case, the CM demonstrated that he is no longer worthy of the trust of the citizens.

    Like

  35. Mike T begs off identifying himself with the excuse that he has a job, and he would apparently face retribution if he identified himself on VSV.

    I can relate a little to the retribution thing since if I had gone public while I was still employed by the City of Simi Valley, I would have faced retribution. That’s why I tried to work within the system to get reform and continued to do so immediately upon my retirement. However, it has been a long time since I fell off the turnip truck and in my wildest dreams I did not imagine that I’d succeed while still being employed. And, I didn’t. And, when I failed with Mayor Miller, I became a whistleblower when I told the truth to the SV Acorn. Using the vernacular of the city officials, I am a “disgruntled ex-employee” whistleblower.

    Mike T, on the other hand, is not a whistleblower. He’s a denigrator. If we are to believe Mike T, his job is in jeopardy, therefore, because he is intent upon demonizing the members of the Simi Valley Police Officers Association and me, a retired police officer. Have I done something personally to you, Mike T, to engender your anger at me?

    I can’t blame you Mike T. If you were my employee and your identity became known, I’d fire you as well so as to not let your behavior bring disrepute upon my business.

    As for the Joe Howry opinion piece, I didn’t think much of it when it was first published. Howry is not compelling when referring to police “unions,” which are not unions in the true sense. They are associations and have no power to strike, unlike real unions. Howry fails to understand that government can treat employees badly just like private enterprise. That is why the police officers bill of rights was passed in the 70’s. I was defending officers of oppressive police administrative decisions at the time. And, for all the benefit of the police officer bill of rights, police departments still today engage in egregious activity. But, that’s another story for another day.

    Also for another day, the true story of negotiations between cities and police officer associations over wages and benefits. I’ve seen it in two cities now. Could there be a pattern here? Or, is it just that the City of Simi Valley acted like a bully?

    Sorry about your signs, Mitch. Too bad the police department is no longer allowed to investigate. You’ll just have to be content with Code Enforcement.

    Like

  36. One thing that seems to be missed in this discussion is the comment that a video system was considered, but since there was only one and it was in use, it was not possible. This says to me that there is a short-sighted problem in that the Police should have more than one video system since it is cheaper to use that than to have an actual person.

    Like

  37. I will just leave it at this, my original post here (#2), compared with the Acorn’s editorial today. My original point did not involve the POA – does this original post mention the organization?

    As the Acorn said, “Arabian should have turned over the Huber sign mystery case to somebody else.” Amen.

    1.

    “7 hours of holiday weekend time-and-a-half pay to stare at a single yard sign, all by a detective seen speaking in a Bob Huber fund-raiser video. My God, no wonder property crimes are up in Simi Valley. We cannot trust these guys to make sound decisions based on what’s best for the community overall. It appears they make decisions based on what’s best for them, the police.”

    2.

    Wrong man for the job

    2010-10-08 / Editorials

    The Simi Valley Police Department was correct to investigate why Bob Huber’s campaign signs kept disappearing in front of the McDonald’s on Yosemite Avenue.

    Some have said there were more important things for our officers to be doing. The police blotter reveals that over the weekend of Aug. 27, arrests were made for sexual battery, drug possession, vandalism, burglary and drunk driving.

    Was it the best use of resources to place a highly-trained detective in front of a fast-food restaurant watching signs for seven hours? Maybe not.

    But the fact is, stealing campaign signs is a crime, and in this case, a felony. The candidates are spending hundreds of dollars to get their names out to the public. It’s illegal to steal or destroy their property. Police involvement is as pertinent to this case as it is to any other reported theft.
    The issue is not the investigation but rather who was assigned to conduct it.

    Sgt. Robert Arabian is the treasurer of the Police Officers Association and Huber’s most vocal and visible supporter on the force. He’s featured prominently in a pro-Huber video released to the public months ago.

    With so many capable officers in the department, Arabian shouldn’t have risked the appearance of impropriety or accusations that he—a veteran officer—was using his badge to conduct a political favor.

    Sgt. Arabian is free to support any candidate he wants. And his involvement in the investigation may have had nothing to do with support for Bob Huber. But by volunteering to conduct the stakeout himself, he turned an honest investigation into political fodder.

    Council members are asked frequently to recuse themselves from voting if there’s even a hint of conflict of interest. When the possibility of a stakeout came up, Arabian should have done the same.

    One bad call shouldn’t reflect poorly on the brave men and women of the Simi Valley Police Department who keep our city safe. But it’s Simi Valley’s most contentious election in 30 years: Arabian should have turned over the Huber sign mystery case to somebody else.

    Like

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