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Commentary: I see issues with CMPD hiring

August 16, 2013|By Allen Huggins

Re. "Police: Politics harming recruitment," Aug. 11: I have refrained from commenting on the inner workings of the city and the Police Department for many months since I retired.

To be honest, I didn't want to subject my family to the mudslinging that is all too common in Costa Mesa today. With that said, and in my opinion, the latest comments from Mayor Jim Righeimer and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger [regarding police officer recruiting] are misleading, and I think the record needs to at least be accurate.

There is a significant issue with attracting quality personnel to the department, and there has been shortly since Righeimer and Mensinger were elected and appointed, respectively. The department has also been experiencing an exodus that is unprecedented. While there are a variety of reasons, it would be unreasonable to believe there isn't a connection between the tenor the City Council has set, under the tutelage of the current majority, and the personnel difficulties the Police Department has been and is facing.

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To provide some basic background, I have been a life-long Republican, and I recently retired after over 27 years of service to the city. I also am a realist and recognize that the economic issues have necessitated changes in the salaries and benefit packages.

It is not the changes in salaries and benefits that are causing such a huge exodus of experienced personnel and the lack of quality lateral officers and applicants, it is the rhetoric-filled comments by members of the City Council that many times are lacking the veracity expected of elected officials.

The employees are not the enemy of the city or the people who live, work and play in Costa Mesa. They are, for the most part, dedicated, hardworking people who are doing what they were hired to do. Rhetoric calling them "union thugs" and worse is uncalled for and unproductive.

In my former life, I had direct knowledge of the quality of people who were applying to be officers. While there were some good applicants, there were many more who had too many questions to hire in a position of a police officer, which requires significant community trust.

The hiring standards are and were not too high, as alleged. If anything, the standards were relaxed, as much as is reasonable. I don't believe that the police department should ever deviate from insisting that integrity, honesty and proper values be a cornerstone of what makes up a new officer.

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