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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.”

Teen’s Anti-Graffiti Campaign Earns $5,000 Disney Scholarship

The Orange County Register featured Jesse Gutierrez in an article this week

An Anaheim teen-ager who worked with the police department to educate younger peers about the hazards of graffiti earned a $5,000 scholarship from Disney this week.

Jesse Gutierrez, a senior at Anaheim High School, is one of 10 students from throughout Orange County who earned scholarships for community involvement and academic achievement.

“I was amazed to see how the kids thought graffiti was fine,” he told the Orange County Register. Thoughout the program, the children begin to see the impact that graffiti had on their surroundings and realized that graffiti is not okay.”

To read the rest of the newspaper’s article, click here.

Public Safety Involves More Than Having Officers Respond to Crime, Chief Says

More than 500 police experts from around the globe gathered Monday at the Disneyland Hotel to share success stories and new strategies for engaging the public in the fight against crime.

Chief Welter POP

Chief Welter addresses the conference crowd

“We all need to be ready to make the case for public safety being more than just having officers respond to crime,” said Anaheim Police Chief John Welter at the 20th annual “Problem-Oriented Policing Conference.” “In the long run, a problem solving strategy is so much more effective and financially efficient.”

The conference features three days of seminars from top law enforcement officials and criminal justice academics.

Coined by University of Wisconsin professor Herman Goldstein, Problem-Oriented Policing (POP) emphasizes research, analysis, prevention and the participation of public and private organizations.

“Most of our private sector partners require just a little help and direction,” Welter said. “But we all need to lead that effort by providing accurate and convincing crime information… and then following up with concrete examples of what community members can do – and how they can do it.”

David Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay University in New York, noted several simple ways police can deter repeat offenders. One involves more honest and direct communication.

“If all you do is tell them (how to avoid prison) – you get huge changes in behavior,” he said, adding, “no sane human being wants to go to prison.”

Kennedy also encouraged police to think beyond the traditional criminal justice system – to informal social controls – in developing deterrence strategies.

An effective technique involves family member participation.David Kennedy's "Deterrence and Crime Prevention"

“Most offenders harbor real doubts about what they are doing,” he said. “When they don’t care – get the people around them to care.”

To illustrate the power of the strategy, he asked: “When you were a kid, how many of you were afraid of police officers?”

Only a few hands went up.

“How many were afraid of your mother?”

Most hands went up.

Most offenders still listen to their mothers, friends or other influencers, he said.

“Just find the pressure points wherever you can,” he said.

Later this week, the Herman Goldstein Award will be given to a police agency that exhibited innovation and effective use of POP techniques to resolve a community problem. Anaheim PD was a finalist for the award in 2007 for its effort in cleaning up The Boogie! nightclub. To read APD’s submission, click here

For more about the conference or POP strategies, visit the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing’s Web site here and download one of its many innovative guides.