Anaheim police chief Jorge Cisneros refuses to implement recommendations from two police review groups that could affect the accuracy of statements made by officers after the shootings.
The city's community-run Police Review Board and external Office of Investigative Review Group recommended that the police provide evidence on the day a critical incident occurred, rather than within seven days, as is currently the case is. The OIR group also recommended that officers not be shown body cam footage of incidents in which they are involved before making their statement.
These recommendations were presented at this week's council meeting as part of both groups' annual reports.
"From our perspective, it makes sense that this statement is made much earlier to reduce the likelihood that anything will affect the accuracy of the official's statements," said Mayra Gomez, a member of the Police Review Board.
However, Cisneros, who was appointed chief in 2018, argued that his policy of giving officials involved in shootings seven days to make statements was "the norm".
"Being involved in a shootout is a traumatic event for our community and also for our police officers," said Cisneros. "APD, like most other California police, removes officers from duty for 72 hours … then they have to pass a psychological exam before returning to work. Anaheim didn't do the 72 hours; That is a norm in our profession. "
According to Cisneros, experts believe that people who experience trauma can provide more reliable information if they “move away from that trauma”.
Michael Gennaco of the OIR Group disagrees. "We believe the officer should be interviewed before the officer goes home that night," he said.
The OIR group has been tasked with the city of Anaheim since 2007 to provide investigations and reports about the police department. The group has access to confidential files and can monitor debriefing at the crime scene.
The Police Review Board is the city's civilian oversight body for the police department, with each resident represented by one resident.
Most Council members had little to say about the department's stance on the two recommendations.
Council members Denise Barnes and Jose Moreno mentioned that it would be desirable to consult officials immediately to "make sure the memory is fresh".
"Another recommendation concerns body cameras – we would prefer a situation in which an officer makes a statement before being exposed to body cameras," said Gennaco. "This is a point of contention between us and the department.
“We believe the best course of action, and memory experts agree, is to get the official's testimony and then allow the official to see the body-worn camera. If this camera material worn on the body causes his memory to be updated, let the officer improve his statement. "
Cisneros said that the Orange County Prosecutor's Office will conduct criminal investigations if a police shootout takes place. It is up to this authority to decide how the official should be interviewed.
"Again, there are disagreements between experts about whether or not to display the body camera before or after," said Cisneros.
Moreno said it was "problematic" to allow officials to review the video of the incident before their interview.
Gennaco said the department had agreed to implement most of the group's recommendations and, like many California police departments, has removed the use of neck grips from its policies after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody.
According to Cisneros, the department has implemented over 90% of the OIR Group's recommendations over the years.
City councilor Stephen Faessel said at the meeting that he would like reports from both groups to be submitted every two years rather than once a year, and expressed concern that some of the cases included in the reports are from two years ago.
"It is a little uncomfortable that we learn about statements and things that happened two years ago," said Faessel. "I am concerned that the timing of these reports is so late for us. In particular, the use of violence by the police is something we need to be aware of very quickly."
Brazil writes for Times Community News.