Police Chief, Command Staff Address Community in Zoom Meeting

first_imgIn a community meeting on Thursday, Pasadena Police Chief John Perez said the Pasadena Police Department does not have an edict to seek out and stop African American men who are driving with tinted windows and without a front license plate.“That is not the case at all,” Perez said as he pointed out that 61 percent of the department is made up of people of color.At least two high profile cases involved African-American men — Christopher Baller and Anthony McClain — driving vehicles with no license plate and tinted windows.Ballew was struck repeatedly by police officers during a traffic stop just outside the city’s border in Altadena and McClain was fatally shot once in the torso by an unnamed Pasadena police officer on Aug. 15 after he fled during a traffic stop. Police say he removed a gun from his waistband as he began to flee and shifted his body towards them which placed police officers in fear for their lives.A gun was recovered at the scene and DNA testing on that gun has not been completed.Kennedy asked the audience to pause and say McClain’s name at the end of the meeting.“I believe justice will prevail, Kennedy said. “Justice will prevail.”As the beginning of the meeting Kennedy said he has been advised by City Attorney Michele Beal Bagneris not to answer questions regarding the fatal police shooting of Anthony McClain.Kennedy said he would read questions based on the parameters established by Bagneris.Mermell read a statement regarding the incident at the beginning of the meeting.“Any loss of life is tragic and we extend our heart-felt condolences to the family of Mr. McClain,” Mermell said. “Incidents such as these have a traumatic impact on the family, our Pasadena community and our dedicated law enforcement personnel.“We cannot change what has occurred, but we can ensure that this incident will be fully investigated; investigations that are already underway. Additionally, we will initiate an independent, third-party review of this incident that will result in a publically available report. Our community deserves to know more about this incident and we will provide the facts. We understand the urgency and will proceed diligently and with all speed until this important work is done. ”The 90-minute meeting was held on Zoom and at least 200 people requested a link for the meeting.“We have to be open and engaged in our community and willing to listen to our community to make sure we are part of the community,” Perez said.The meeting was hosted by Councilmember John Kennedy, Deputy Chief Cheryl Moody, Cmdr. Art Chute, Jason Clawson, Acting Executive Administrator Michelle Mercier Robinson and City Manager Steve Mermell.Other topics included traffic, oversight, body cam footage, community engagement, CPR training and the payments of settlements by city for police wrongdoing.Perez said it was his decision alone to fire police officers when asked about the influence of the Pasadena Police Officers Association.“The PPOA has been supportive of oversight. The association has been involved and has been supportive,” Perez said.The City Council passed police oversight on Monday, and after the staff works out the ordinance an independent commission will be created and an Independent Police Auditor will be hired.”When asked to list the department’s two biggest weaknesses, Perez listed three ongoing challenges recruitment, ongoing training and keeping contact between the department and the community strong.“We need to motivate local young people to apply for police department jobs so the jobs are not going to people in Orange County.”One viewer asked a multipart question about the number of times the city has been sued regarding wrongdoing by officers, disciplinary actions taken and how much the city has paid out in settlements.“The city like all government gets sued a lot,” Mermell said. “People file claims for a number of things, including tree branches falling on their cars, slipping on the sidewalk and when the feel like they have been mistreated by the people. Generally speaking the high profile incidents are reported in the media and when there is a payment or settlement that is reported. The city in addition to being a government operates like a business. Sometimes it goes to litigation, just as often, or more, cases get settled. It does not mean there is wrongdoing. It is a business decision. When a claim exceeds $25,000 it goes to the City Council and they have to decide if it should be settled. Just because a case gets settled it does not mean there is wrongdoing.” Home of the Week: Unique Pasadena Home Located on Madeline Drive, Pasadena Business News Community News Subscribe Get our daily Pasadena newspaper in your email box. 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