Join APD in Celebrating Public Safety Partnerships Tuesday at National Night Out

The public is invited to join the police department Tuesday to celebrate Anaheim’s community partnerships and outstanding safety record during a National Night Out event at Eucalyptus Park.

The event runs from 5-8 p.m. at 100 N. Quintana Drive. It will feature dozens of public safety exhibitions, including a presentation by APD’s award winning canine unit and SWAT team. 

“This is one of our favorite community events of the year,” said Sgt. Rick Martinez. “The community plays such a key role in our safety record, and National Night Out provides an outstanding opportunity to share what we do with the public – and to thank them for their support and assistance.”

For more information call Karen Eckes at (714)765-3869.

To view coverage of last year’s event, click here.

Cost is free.

When Does ‘No Turn on Red Light When Children Present’ Apply?

Sgt. Foster

Sgt. Foster

A reader asked Orange County Register “Behind the Wheel” columnist Michael Mello to clarify the meaning of signs reading, “No turn on red light when children are present.”
 
Who did the columnist turn to for the answer?
 
Sgt. Mike Foster of APD’s traffic division.
 
“If the children (17 years and younger) are on another corner, or crossing in the opposite crosswalk, then the signs do not apply,” Foster told the newspaper.
 
To read Mello’s column, click here.

‘Mr. Anaheim’ Promoted to Lieutenant 

Tim Schmidt found himself standing in the No. 3 lane of the 91 Freeway at 9 in the morning, a CNN camera jammed in his face.

The Anaheim PD veteran recalls that moment in June 2008 as one of the most challenging of his career. He was working as the PIO following an officer-involved shooting that turned into a gun battle on the freeway, forcing it to be closed for hours and resulting in the death of the suspect.

Schmidt, wearing a necktie and crisp white shirt, handled the questions with skill and professionalism – qualities that help explain his recent promotion to lieutenant.

Schmidt couldn’t be happier serving a city he loves and working for a police department he views as one of the most innovative around.

“What we are doing, under the current budget restrictions and the reduction of 35 officer positions, is truly amazing,” Schmidt says. “Our Community Policing Problem Solving efforts, coupled with our Crime Analysis Unit, have had tremendous success with reducing calls for service, reducing gang crimes, and the overall crime rate.”

Schmidt not only grew up in Anaheim, he still lives here. He jokingly calls himself “Mr. Anaheim.”

He attended Albert Schweitzer Elementary, Dale Junior High and Magnolia High schools. After working for the Anaheim YMCA, the city’s Parks and Recreation department and the Anaheim Hilton, he decided to become a police officer – and hasn’t looked back.

Schmidt said the best part of filling in as a PIO was working with Sgt. Rick Martinez, the longtime regular police spokesman.

“His honesty, integrity and experience made the job rewarding and fun to come to work every day,” Schmidt said. “The worst part was dealing with the violence and tragic accidents that happen all too often.”

One of Schmidt’s most enjoyable experiences was manning the dugout of the San Francisco Giants during the historic Game Six of the 2002 World Series at Angels Stadium, when Scott Spiezio put the Angels ahead in the bottom of the eighth inning with a dramatic home run, leading the Angels to victory.

“I’ll remember that moment for the rest of my life,” Schmidt said.

The newly christened lieutenant also received a Distinguished Service Award for his pursuit of armed suspects involved in a robbery. Shots were fired, no one was hit or hurt, but the suspect and two others eventually were caught and arrested. He also received the Randall Gaston award for playing a key role in reducing calls for service and gang crimes in the Dakota neighborhood.

Schmidt is looking for many more productive years ahead at Anaheim PD.

“We will be the standard that all Southern California law enforcement agencies strive to achieve,” he predicted.

First Female Captain Would Rather Focus on the Job

Police Chief John Welter congratulations Brewer on her promotion

Belinda Brewer officially started her job last week as Anaheim PD’s first female captain in the department’s 140-year history.

But don’t mention that to her. She’d rather talk about the accomplishments and hard work that earned her that rank, or explain why the Anaheim PD is so special.

Brewer became one of the department’s captains at the relatively young age of 47. An Anaheim PD officer for 17 years, she now oversees the Operations Support Division, which includes the traffic division and dispatch.

We caught up with Brewer during an especially busy week.

Q. The department didn’t make a big deal about you being Anaheim PD’s first
female captain, but the media picked up on it. What’s your take on the distinction?
 

A. Although I certainly appreciate the historical significance of my appointment, I believe that when gender or race is highlighted, the hard work, accomplishments and ability to do the job are marginalized. 

Q. Chief Welter said your appointment is a sign of how far law enforcement has come. As somebody who started her law enforcement career in the mid-1980s, how do you view the role women play in policing and police management? 

A. The role of women in policing and police management is no different. The men and women of the Anaheim PD all experience the pains and rewards an officer is exposed to during their career.

Brewer's niece pins her captain's bars

Different perspectives, whether caused by gender, race or even something as simple as experience level, add to the dialogue and provide for the best opportunity for good decisions and choices in any collaborative environment.

Q. What do you want to accomplish in your new role?
A. I want be part of an effective management team that guides Anaheim PD through the budget crisis we face and insures that we as an organization deliver the same high quality of service that our community deserves.
 
I hope that we accomplish this while maintaining our strong reputation and our leadership role within the Orange County law enforcement community.
 
Q. What’s been your favorite assignment as a police officer?  

A. Being an investigator on the Major Narcotics Unit. I really enjoyed the cases and the camaraderie. We traveled all over the state and sometimes across the country to complete cases and make large narcotic seizures. It was a lot of fun.

Q. And your most challenging assignment? 
A. Starting up the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center. This was a task force in which I had to manage staff from several agencies and develop objectives, policies and procedures that met the expectations of all the participating agencies while not conflicting with the federal law enforcement programs also under development.

Q. What do you see as Anaheim PD’s biggest strengths?  
A. Collaboration and teamwork. I am always proud to see how effectively our officers and staff rise to any challenge. Whether it’s a planned event at one of our many venues, or a fire in the canyons, we get the job done professionally while working well with other city departments and outside law enforcement agencies.

Q. In which areas can the department improve?  
A. It’s human nature to be resistant to change, and the employees at Anaheim PD have faced some significant changes during the last year due to the budget problems impacting all city services.

We need to improve communication about the changes; understand that the actions were difficult but necessary, and then let our strengths, collaboration and team work, take over and get the job done.   

Q. Where do you see yourself in five years?
A. Right here at Anaheim PD. I have never regretted my decision to come to Anaheim, and I see myself completing a 30- to 35-year career right here.  As for my rank, I will compete for future opportunities, but I am very proud to serve as a captain and will be just as proud to retire as one too. 

Q. How about the Anaheim PD? Where do you see it in five years?
A. I see us recovering from the budget problems that the economy has created and continuing our leadership in the areas of Homeland Security, Problem Oriented Policing, and making our community the safest place possible.

I see continual opportunities to expand on our use of technology to improve all of our services, but especially in the areas of proactive policing and investigative strategies. 
 
Q. Anything else you’d like to add?
A. Beginning as a patrol officer here, I have made friends and shared experiences that have been absolutely outstanding. In each new assignment I have enjoyed the challenges and the successes because they have been shared with great people. This is truly a great department to work at because of the people and the opportunities we are given. 

Today is Anniversary of First Peace Officer Killed in Line of Duty

By Ryan Dedmon

On this day in history (July 23, 1872), Anaheim Police Township Constable Charles Lehman was the first peace officer to lose his life in Anaheim. 

He was shot when he tried to intervene in an argument two men were having over a card game. 

A police officer for only 10 months, Lehman, 44, was survived by his wife and infant daughter.

To read more, visit the Officer Down Memorial Page. The website seeks to document and organize for agencies nationwide peace officers who have died in the line of duty throughout U.S. history.

‘Close to Home’ Killing Emotional for New Sergeant

It was one of the most disturbing killings so far this decade.

Sgt. Rodriguez addresses the department at last week's promotion ceremony

An 84-year-old woman was raped, tortured and then killed by an alleged burglar she had never met.

“This case hit close to home,” says Anaheim Police Sgt. James A. Rodriguez, who was promoted last week after a successful run working homicide cases. “Bessie Whyman and her late husband lived down the street from where I grew up. It was an honor to have been a part of that case and to help put her killer behind bars.”

Rodriguez, a Katella High School graduate, says the Whymans were big supporters of his alma mater.

“I was there when Bessie was laid to rest, along with her family, friends and congregation,” he says. “I got to know her through friends and family and she was truly a great human being who never harmed anyone. It was a tragedy what happened to her, but I was happy to do what I could for her and her family.”

Her alleged killer, Anthony Darnell Wade, could face the death penalty if convicted.

“We do not get thanked very often in this line of work,” he said. “But when you solve a murder, the family of the victims are always appreciative and its nice to know we provided some closure for them.”

Rodriguez, 30, says always knew he wanted to be a police officer. He was a police explorer during high school.

“It has been a blast serving the community where I was raised,” he said.

He points to the city’s effort to curb gangs as an example of Anaheim’s progressive approach to law enforcement.

“For a long time, police departments around the country would try and solve the gang problem with a lot of arrests and only through suppression methods,” he says. “In Anaheim, we do not only approach the gang problem through suppression, but also through intervention and diversion. We have a collaborative effort with (other agencies) to accomplish our goals of combating gang violence.”

Up next for Rodriguez is training the next generation of police officers.

“I was lucky to have a few great supervisors over the years who did the same for me, and I am forever grateful,” he says.

Captain ‘Enjoyed Every Moment’ of 30-year APD Career

No matter the assignment, Capt. Chuck O’Connor was always one of the Anaheim Police Department’s most valuable players.

Capt. O'Connor

As a young detective, his undercover work led to 105 arrests and the demise of one of the region’s biggest property theft rings. Even last week, during his final shift before retiring, O’Connor surveyed Angels Stadium to ensure nothing went wrong as the world watched.

He served as the police department’s tactical commander for Major League Baseball’s All-Star game.

It was just another successful mission in a 30-year career filled with accomplishments.

O'Connor said he enjoyed working motors

“It’s one of the greatest jobs in the world,” O’Connor says of police work. “You get the opportunity to do so many different and interesting things.”

But most of all, O’Connor, 51, says he relished the relationships.

While retiring captain relished the relationships, he enjoyed the action too.

At his retirement ceremony, Lt. Brian McElhaney called him as “the heart of the department.”

“In the end, people care most about how you treat them,” O’Connor says.

But don’t misunderstand. He loved the action.

SWAT

Riding a motorcycle. Flying on the skid of a helicopter. Repelling down the side of buildings. Those are among the many highlights.

He recalls how police officials once envisioned a full-time SWAT team.

If that had happened, “I’d probably have spent my career working there,” he says.

It’s probably a good thing it didn’t.

O’Connor eventually rose to the rank of captain, mentored dozens of officers and led a countywide effort to harden potential targets of terrorism.

Among his post-retirement plans: getting private investigators license and working with companies that specialize in homeland security and promotional preparation training. He also plans to travel and spend more time with his wife, Loretta, and daughters, Alexandria, 15, and Olivia, 8.

He joked with retiring Lt. Chris Sayers, who plans to work for Disney, about his “other” retirement plan at last week’s ceremony.

Undercover

“While Sayers has a Mickey Mouse job, I plan to handle Drew Carey’s game show hosting duties when he’s on vacation,” O’Connor joked.

Although he is the third captain to retire in seven months, O’Connor says the future is bright for APD.

“There were nine people who applied to replace me,” he says. “The Chief said all nine could do the job.”

While institutional knowledge is important, he says, “Sometimes it’s good to have a fresh set of eyes.”

Anaheim Family Justice Center Foundation Sets Up Fund for Boys Who Lost Parents

The Anaheim Family Justice Center Foundation has raised more than $1,200 to support two boys whose parents were killed last month in an apparent murder-suicide.

They hope to raise a lot more.

“This is a horrific tragedy for those young boys,” said Kerith Dilley, executive director of the AFJC Foundation. “They have a long and painful road ahead of them. That is why we are reaching out to the public and asking them to assist.”

Wayne and Herminia Zickefoose were found dead in their backyards with gunshot wounds to their heads June 13, police said. Investigators believe Wayne Zickefoose, 51, killed his wife, then tried to kill his sons, 5 and 3, before turning the gun on himself.

He shot his 3-year-old three times – in the chest, shoulder and abdomen, but he miraculously survived, said Sgt. Rick Martinez. While he’s still hospitalized, doctors are optimistic that he’ll recover. The 5-year-old managed to escape without injury.

Dilley said all funds will be used to support the boys. The money will go toward medical expenses and the upbringing of both boys, who are with relatives in Wisconsin.

“This is one of those situations where we hope the community will show its support for helpless children in need,” Dilley said. “Every little bit helps.”

To donate, click here, call the foundation at 714-765-1618 or email Dilley directly at kdilley@anaheim.net.

To read an Orange County Register story about the murder-suicide, click here.

First Female Captain Starts New Role Today

Belinda Brewer, Anaheim PD’s first-ever female captain, embarks on her new role in charge of the Operations Support Division today.

Capt. Brewer chats with retiring Lt. Chris Sayers at last week's retirement/promotion ceremony

No mention was made of the historical significance of her promotion at least week’s promotion and retirement ceremony – “perhaps a positive sign of a move toward gender equity,” says the Orange County Register in a story published today.

“I realize it is a historically significant moment; I just don’t want to make a big deal of it,” Brewer told the newspaper. “I’d rather people look at the quality of the job I’ve done and recognize that it is the reason that I have advanced.”

To read the rest of the Register story, click here.

Two Anaheim PD All-Stars Retire; First Female Captain Appointed

Two days after the city of Anaheim hosted Major League Baseball’s All-Star game, the Anaheim Police Department bid farewell to two all-stars of its own.

Capt. Chuck O'Connor and Lt. Chris Sayers

Thursday afternoon was filled with laughter and a few watery eyes as the department honored the service of retiring Capt. Chuck O’Connor and Lt. Chris Sayers. More than 150 people jammed the training auditorium and dozens more watched the retirement and promotion ceremony from closed-circuit television outside.

They cheered as captain bars were pinned on a woman for the first time in department history.

And Police Chief John Welter presented new badges to seven other promoted employees, including APD’s third- and fourth-ever female lieutenants. He also acknowledged Officer Eric Grosotti for earning his commercial helicopter pilot’s license.

Capt. Belinda Brewer's niece pins her captain's bars

O’Connor, a homeland security expert who spent years on the SWAT team, is the third captain to retire in the past seven months.

Lt. Brian McElhaney described him as a mentor to many and “the heart of the police department.” Later, Welter and his command staff presented him with his service revolver, which now includes an inscription.

“My career was a lot of fun,” O’Connor said. “I really appreciate the way everybody treated me for 30 years. It’s been great. I’m going to miss you.”

Sayers plans to work for Disney in retirement; he even wore a pin – a violation of dress code, Welter said – on his uniform. “It’s been an absolute pleasure,” he said. “And for all of you asking for a job or for me to get you in free, don’t count on it.”

Officer and helicopter pilot Eric Grisotti's wife pins on his wings

Welter said the department is blessed “to have a great pool of people to promote from.” He turned to the newly minted lieutenants and captain. “Great things are expected of you,” he said.

Replacing O’Connor as operations division captain is Belinda Brewer. Nobody mentioned her distinction as the first female captain.

When asked why afterward, Welter said it’s “an indication of how far the law enforcement community has come. Her promotion was no different than any other promotion. It was based on individual merit. She does great work.”

In her remarks, Brewer discussed how the police department’s collaborative approach to public safety serves as an outstanding model for other agencies. It was on display during last week’s all-star festivities, she said.

“I will strive to continue to build a collaborative environment in our community,” she said. “I look forward to an exciting and challenging future.”

Promoted to lieutenant are Tim Schmidt, Kelly Jung and Sharon Pietrok. Promoted to sergeant are James Rodriguez and Mike Alpine, whose father is a retired APD sergeant.

Also promoted were new communications supervisor Steven Goodwyn and senior police dispatcher Michelle Siemer.

The newly appointed captain and promoted lieutenants enjoy a video featuring new Lt. Kelly Jung superimposed on a breakdancer's body

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