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Suspected serial robbery arrest, gang crime drop, chief search highlighted at meeting

Police believe the robbers hit 22 businesses in three counties and in some cases tied up and pistol-whipped their victims.

Thanks to a “really good job” by Anaheim detectives, Capt. Bob Conklin said Wednesday, police believe the robbers will no longer pose a threat to cashiers at pawn shops and fast food restaurants.

Conklin congratulated detectives, patrol officers and the Crime Task Force at a meeting of the police department’s top leadership for their work in identifying and arresting three suspects.

The arrest wasn’t the only big news at the department’s monthly crime analysis meeting, attended by about 50 people.

Detectives have solved all gang killings so far this year. Overall violent crime is down. And perhaps most encouraging, gang crime is down significantly across the board – a sign that the department’s new strategy to mix youth services with the gang unit is working.

The department also just completed its first “mobile” citizen’s academy – an effort to build closer relationships in the community. About 20 citizens graduated. Lt. Alex Orozco said some were asking how they could continue to engage with the police.

“They went in with a certain perception of what we do, and quite honestly, the perception wasn’t all good,” he said. “The feedback we got at graduation is they have a better understanding, and they were appreciative.”

Interim Chief Raul Quezada announced that the city will begin a nationwide search for a permanent police chief in October. They plan to have a recommendation by mid-December, he said.

Quezada also commended Det. Chris Masilon, who spent his own money to buy school supplies, clothing and new shoes for a child living in poverty who was part of an Orange County Family Justice Center program.

“It speaks a lot to your character,” Quezada said. “And I just want to thank you.”

New lieutenant brings experience and personal attributes to new assignment

Lt. Hittesdorf aids in an alleged drug arrest

Lt. Hittesdorf aids in an alleged drug arrest September 6

Her father was an Anaheim cop. Her husband is an Anaheim cop.

But ask Tracy Hittesdorf, and she’ll tell you she had no intention of spending her adult years in or around law enforcement.

“If you would have told me in college when I was a biology major that I’d eventually be a cop, I’d have called you crazy,” said Hittesdorf. “Coming in, I was the girly-girl that had never been in a fight before.”

Meet the Anaheim Police Department’s newest lieutenant. She earned the promotion a few weeks ago. The former sex crimes detective and 23-year APD vet now leads patrol.

Interim Police Chief Raul Quezada calls her “girliness” an asset.

“Tracy is great at noting peoples’ strengths and putting them in positions to succeed,” he said.  “She’s a great addition to our group of lieutenants.”

Born in Anaheim and a graduate of Canyon High School, Hittesdorf described her father, Ron Fisher, as an “old school motor cop”. He didn’t want her to become a police officer. And that was fine with her – until late in college.

The Cal Poly Pomona senior decided she had more chemistry with criminal justice than biology, so she changed majors.

Hittesdorf most enjoys the challenge of bringing together the strengths of individual team members to solve problems – a skill she identified and nurtured in the police academy.

“I was very good with the books while others were more gifted physically.  So, we all worked together and used our different attributes to accomplish our goal,” she said.

What about her husband, Ben Hittesdorf? They worked together on the Community Policing team and as patrol partners before becoming life partners, marrying in 1996.

Tracy Hittesdorf also supervised internal affairs and the Safe Schools program and worked on horseback as a member of APD’s Mounted Unit. She looks forward to being back on the streets in uniform, leading what she calls “one of the finest patrol units in all of law enforcement.”

Her husband is also an APD lieutenant, overseeing detectives. They have two daughters.

Like their mother, neither plans to become a police officer.

At least not yet.

Since last summer’s civil unrest, police have taken significant steps

Interim Police Chief Raul Quezada

Interim Police Chief Raul Quezada

The message was clear: The Anaheim Police Department has made a number of big steps to improve access to information, relationships with neighborhoods and the accountability of its officers.

They’ve also made it easier for the public to provide feedback.

“Tell us what we’re doing right; tell us what we’re doing wrong,” said Interim Police Chief Raul Quezada at the Sept. 3 City Council meeting. “And tell us how we can work better together to reduce crime and form a better partnership.”

Quezada gave a detailed presentation on more than 30 enhancements to police policies, procedures and outreach since last summer’s civil unrest. The changes come after a yearlong effort that included more than 150 meetings between the police and community.

Among the highlights:

  • All uniformed officers must now wear digital audio recorders and the department will transition to having them wear video recorders by 2014.
  • Following officer-involved shootings, the District Attorney’s Office will deliver reports of its findings to families in person prior to making the reports public. They will also make the reports available in English and Spanish. The Police Department asked the District Attorney’s Office for the adjustment.
  • The Police Department is creating a neighborhood advisory board. Representatives will meet monthly with Quezada to discuss concerns and strengthen relationships.

The Police Department has also made it easier for citizens to make anonymous complaints on its website or by contacting one of Quezada’s advisory board members, whose information is also published on the police website.

Council members applauded the Police Department’s response.

“I just want to congratulate you and your command staff for stepping up and listening to the community and moving forward with some of the things they saw as needed,” Councilwoman Gail Eastman said.

The department has hired 13 new officers, as well as created community policing and community services teams. Those teams are also responsible for the department’s Gang Reduction and Interdiction Program, which will expand its gang prevention and education programs to 12 Anaheim schools.

Another big focus is outreach. The Police Department has started a “Coffee with a Cop” program and thus far has had 35 of them spread throughout the city. It has also added a community calendar to its website and encourages community members to join police officers at events. Its Cops4Kids and PACE Citizen Academy have gone mobile, and PACE is available in Spanish.

To watch the report, visit the city’s website and watch the meeting. Click here to read the report.