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HB council to consider renewing chief’s contract in wake of critical report.

Original article written by Bradley Zint

Huntington Beach Police Chief Robert Handy’s contract is up for a five-year renewal at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. The meeting comes about a week after a report by Management Partners, a Costa Mesa-based consultant, noted “deep divisions” within the Police Department.  City staff, however, is recommending that Handy’s contract be renewed to “provide continuity of leadership, promote staff development and training throughout the department and develop a shared vision as recommended in the report.” City officials placed the contract on the meeting agenda’s consent calendar — a section for uncontroversial items that generally require little or no discussion — though Handy’s critics and supporters are likely to attend.

 

The renewal does not include an immediate salary increase. The staff report does not mention the division between Handy and his officers. Last year, both the rank-and-file and police management unions called for his removal. Members have been critical of Handy’s request for police to wear body cameras and say he has failed to bond with his management team and officers. A majority of the council and City Manager Fred Wilson, who support Handy, do not share those sentiments. Mayor Mike Posey declined to comment on Handy’s contract. The council appointed Handy in December 2013. He came to Huntington after serving two years as police chief in San Bernardino and 21 years with the Phoenix Police Department, where he became a commander. City staff say Handy enjoys broad support from Huntington Beach residents and the business community and has kept crime rates down. Overall crime dropped nearly 3% in 2017. Violent crime, however, increased 28%. Yasha Nikitin, vice president of the Huntington Beach Police Officers Assn., said in a statement that the union is “not surprised by the political tactics being used by some to distract the community from the spiking crime rate and complete dysfunction and mistrust within the Police Department created by Rob Handy.” Nikitin said the police chief is “not trusted and has created a hostile environment for good employees … Handy is leading his few city staff and leaders down the drain. He has a free rein to do public relations all day at the expense of the taxpayer but does not deliver results at work.”

 

Nikitin accused Wilson of writing the “subversive” Management Partners report “to cover for his friend.” “Punishing your Police Department to keep your friend employed doesn’t help the community tackle serious challenges we are facing,” Nikitin said. Wilson, through a spokeswoman, called the assertion that he wrote the report “completely false.” “Management Partners wrote the report and developed the recommendations on their own,” Wilson said. City officials noted last year that union was OK with Management Partners performing the survey.

 

Read the LA Times article here: Article by Bradley Zint

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