Chief Lewis Defends the SVPD

I’m used to taking the unpopular position, so I’ll go ahead and say this: I don’t believe the SVPD has done anything wrong in their handling of the Takasugi fraud case, the controversial criminal complaint regarding Mayor Huber’s former law associate. And these aren’t just my miscellaneous thoughts on the subject. I believe I have asked the right people the right questions to better understand the situation as well as the investigative process and required resources for such cases.

Even though I was on vacation last week, I was still tuned in enough to be thoroughly disappointed when the Ventura County Star decided to run another story on the SVPD where the City Council requests a third party investigation on their handling of the Takasugi case. The story shed no light on any new facts or information and seemed to only keep the topic fresh on the minds of Simi Valley readers. I wasn’t the only one who saw it this way.

Chief Mike Lewis has drafted a response to be published in the Ventura County Star. He lays out the facts regarding the timeline of events as well as the resources allocated to the investigation. Understandably, his frustration is evident regarding the story’s constant revival in our local paper.

When we’re not in the midst of an election cycle, I’m proud to say that I’m a supporter of our City Council. But I don’t always agree with every stand they take, either as a unified Council or individually. I hope that our City Council can let this issue rest for now and I think they really have since mentioning this issue several weeks back. Even better, I’d hope the Ventura County Star can ease up until there’s something new and relevant to report. There’s an awful lot we don’t know about how these cases are investigated, not to mention an even bigger issue regarding available resources and concerns about mandatory job rotations. Rather than open Pandora’s box, I propose we all rest easy and let this play itself out.

Here are Chief Mike Lewis’s thoughts on the matter:

Every Cloud has a Silver Lining

For many weeks now, the 195 fine men and women of the Simi Valley Police Department have been maligned regarding the alleged delay of a complex fraud investigation.  Normally, our internal review and a subsequent request for an investigation (which was declined) by the District Attorney’s Office would be sufficient to quell any questions regarding the allegation of an inappropriate action, in this case the intentional delay in completing an investigation.  However, this particular issue seems to have taken on a life of its own, and I will not silently stand by while the integrity of my officers and support staff is continually impugned for questionable purposes.

A review of the facts are as follows:

Beate Kirmse, administrator for the estate of Oscar Muro, filed a criminal complaint on October 19, 2010, alleging attorney Russell Takasugi, embezzled funds from the estate of Mr. Muro.  This was 14 days before the recent City elections.  An article reporting this criminal complaint appeared in the Ventura County Star on October 25.  This was one week before the election.

When this complaint was filed, our lead expert economic crimes investigator was out of the office for an extensive training class to prepare him for a new position as the Department’s lead homicide investigator.  A law enforcement agency must constantly review its workload and allocate resources based upon priority of the type of investigation and our detectives’ current caseload.  Based upon this review, our Investigative Unit made the decision to wait until our lead investigator returned from training to assist a newer detective with the investigation of this particular case.  There were no exigent circumstances requiring immediate action such as the destruction of evidence.

Fraud and embezzlement cases are very complex and require hundreds of records, including bank statements and other types of documentation, which must be subpoenaed from banks, trusts, estate attorneys, etc., before a case may be presented to the District Attorney’s Office for review. Investigations of this nature typically take many months, even years, to complete based upon the complexity.  Only after an investigation is complete would there be any information released to the public.

We are now a full six weeks into this investigation, and it will probably take several more months to complete.  If I had put my entire Investigative Unit on this case when it was first received, there would have been nothing to report before the election and this investigation would still be ongoing.  As the head of this agency, it is my professional opinion, based upon knowing all of the facts, that the Department took the proper steps in an appropriate timeframe.  For some to suggest otherwise is nothing more than an attempt to keep this “story” in the news with unfounded claims of biased policing.

The constant rehashing of this story smacks of Police Department bashing.  In fact, much of this story is attributed to second hand comments reportedly made by a civil attorney during a probate hearing in Superior Court.  The repeated assertion that there is a “black cloud” over our Department comes from not knowing all of the facts and not allowing the City Manager to complete his review and report back to the City Council with his findings.  I have already stated my desire to have full transparency on this issue and once again pledge to the community of Simi Valley that a review is welcomed.

As the Chief of Police, I am proud to state that I stand with the investigators who are diligently working this investigation; unequivocally support their decisions made, and the Department’s handling of this case.  As with all of the calls for service we receive, this case will be handled with the highest degree of integrity and professionalism because this purported dark cloud truly has a silver lining composed of the 195 dedicated staff who make up the Simi Valley Police Department.

Mike Lewis, Chief of Police
Simi Valley Police Department

21 thoughts on “Chief Lewis Defends the SVPD

  1. Maybe Steve soak is just whining over losing. Maybe it’s just sour grapes. Maybe the independent grand jury will put this to rest. Maybe there really is a Santa Claus.

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  2. Maybe Wayne Evans and his fake names can contribute something worthy to the Ventura County Star and the blogs instead of the same wishy washy hateful spew.

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  3. You may not like the news, but it is news. When enough city officials see a problem and launch an investigation no amount of whining by bloggers or police officers will make the problem go away.

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  4. I am tiering of corrupt government. This matter still needs investigation.

    I am concerned about expanding my business here. Is there a history of such problems in Simi Valley?

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  5. This whole story stinks and seems a bit odd. If I may point out, the civil attorney was on this case for months prior to contacting the SVPD to investigate just before the election, which seems strange. While I am not an attorney, I know these guys cast the widest net they can and it seems as if this one is trying to catch our mayor and the police department in his. From what I have read this is an ambulance chasing lawyer looking for a $150K payday, assuming he is on a 33% retainer.

    I support the SVPD wholeheartedly and to make this kind of accusation is ridiculous, not to mention sojka’s reaction to it. I was going to vote for sojka, but I changed my opinion and voted for Huber for a few unrelated reasons.

    This is my timely and relevant experience with the SVPD. At 12:21 A.M., about an hour ago, I heard seven large caliber gun shots being fired, which did not sound like they were well aimed from a .45. Within thirty seconds I called 911 and they operator asked if I was calling about the gun shots and said they were already on it. About a minute later I heard approximately twelve shots from a much smaller automatic being fired, which I sounded like a 9mm. While I don’t know the details of the gun battle that just went on not far from Township Elementary, I am going to assume the SVPD was on the spot as they have been in my previous experiences with them and took the gunman out.

    If and when the police show up in my neighborhood, they are offered fresh hot coffee and given a “thank you” from my family and myself. Making them out to look like criminals is sickening.

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  6. Wow, I am amazed by how many people are willing to look the other way because we are talking about the police. However, it really has nothing to do with the police; but rather with public employee unions in general and the unwholly alliance between them and the politicians that are bankrupting this country. Below comes from a Harvard Alumni Blog:

    “All of this was changed in 1958 when an aide to New York Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr. suggested that city workers could be a large enough voting bloc to ensure his reelection. Wager signed an executive order authorizing city workers, notably those of the transit system, to unionize and bargain collectively. As the percentage of Americans working for the government grew, other politicians began to see support for public employee unions as a way to get votes. State politicians around the country allowed public employees to unionize shortly after Wagner’s executive order. President John F. Kennedy allowed federal government workers to unionize starting in 1962.”

    Government workers unionizing is a modern development and many of the problems coming true today were debated at the time. It was illegal prior to this time.

    SV Citizen, I don’t know what gun shots have to do with the possibility that a police union may have improperly influenced an election so it could get its “man” in the seat of power? This is exactly the kind of stuff that Wall Street pulls and that’s why we are in our current circumstances.

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  7. This problem DEMANDS attention from an independent body. Those of you who think otherwise because of your experience with the SVPD are not looking at the big picture. This is a union problem.

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  8. Well said Chief Lewis.

    In my opinion sending this out for an outside review will be a big waste of time and money! This is the reason the police department has a IA department. This issue has been reviewed by a Lt, Capt, and the chief (all of them are not part of the POA) and no wrong doing has been found.

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  9. SVPD officers shoot 12 times, hit nothing. Explain that.

    You wrote this:

    “I am going to assume the SVPD was on the spot as they have been in my previous experiences with them and took the gunman out.”

    Took what out with a dozen shots? From a “smaller automatic,” as you could tell just by hearing it? An owl? Possum? Squirrel?

    Firecrackers.

    The people on this blog are unreal.

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  10. What would life be like without Mike C?

    We would not get to see the unreal yet real ramblings of people like SV Citizen.

    We would never get to learn about ads from candidates who supported those “Simi Valley Highlanders”

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  11. I always poke at Singletary, yet that dang Purple guy harasses me. I hate that. Weird. But Singletary lives so far away, and he seems so distressed, like he has a new job. F him. He should grab a really fast runner on the Dodgers.

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