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  • Writer's pictureGabriel San Roman

Slingshot: Santa Ana Police Union Solicits Vote of No Confidence Against Chief

Embattled Santa Ana police chief David Valentin is now facing a potential vote of no confidence from his rank-and-file officers. It's the latest tiff in the drama-filled department between its top cop and the Santa Ana Police Officers Association.

The union sent its members a memo, obtained by Chispa, outlining a laundry list of grievances, including a willingness by the chief to fulfil a public records request by an activist for all personnel file headshot photographs of officers.

"This was unprecedented and many contacted board representatives asking about a vote of no confidence," the memo reads. "It is abundantly clear, from the recent management assessment and by so many that have voiced their concerns that the morale at the police department has worsened to near unrecoverable levels."

Allowing the records request to be fulfilled would have amounted to a failure to "protect" officers and their families, according to the union memo. The activist originally sought them following viral video of a fight in downtown Santa Ana that allegedly involved off-duty Santa Ana PD officers.

The management assessment referenced in the memo also found 70 percent of survey respondents reporting a "culture of selective discipline and favoritism" under Valentin.

The Police Officers Association (POA) is headed by Gerry Serrano, who was newly re-elected to his post and has butted heads with past police chiefs. Previous top cop Carlos Rojas sued the city on the grounds that ex-mayor Miguel Pulido and the police union boss conspired to oust him. The lawsuit alleged that Serrano retaliated against Rojas for discipling officers by hatching election schemes where union support was leveraged with a pledge by candidates to boot the chief.

As for Serrano and Valentin? Reports surfaced earlier this year in Voice of OC about a 2018 memo where the current chief questioned Serrano's time off cash out requests and referred to a 2017 cash out for 312 hours as an "anomaly."

But just last year, a union quarterly tried to put to rest rumors that it sought to oust Valentin, Rojas' successor, as well.

"Truth is the chief has led our department in the right direction in collaboration with the Association, which functions as your advocate," read the uncredited commentary. "We work together even when we are on opposite sides of an issue. Times are good. For anyone that is not happy these days, then sadly, you will probably never be satisfied."

My, what a difference a year makes!

The memo now begrudges Valentin for allegedly not willing to "collaborate or communicate" with the police union at all, grounds for a no confidence vote alone in their opinion. Other gripes include the fulfillment of another records request, this time the release of Internal Affairs documents to Voice of OC, which are disclosable under certain provision of SB 1421 but was blasted by the union as being "illegal."

Transparency tiffs aside, the memo further criticizes Valentin by claiming he worked against the POA's budget-busting three-year contract, retaliated against union supporters on the force, discriminated against women officers and eliminated full-time positions while hiring part-timers.

Describing law enforcement as "the most dangerous job in the world," the union is asking members to assess the sins of the chief as it has laid them out in considering the future of the department.

It's a weird flex. Without enjoying a council majority as it had in the past, the POA is unlikely to persuade current councilmembers to hire a candidate of its liking if Valentin is vanished.

Before any votes are returned and counted on the question of confidence in the chief, the only sure bet is that the department is already in disarray--again.

- Gabriel San Román

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Your Mouse Muckraker / Photo by Federico Medina

Mouse Muck

Ever since the Jungle Cruise, an original 1955 attraction, enjoyed a soft opening last week after being refurbished from racism, I've been itching to get back to Disneyland. If there's even a slim chance that I can hop aboard a boat and hear the grumblings of a disappointed bigot bemoaning his lost childhood with all the changes, then the Mouse House will truly be the happiest place on Earth that day for me! Dole whips for everyone! Skip quips aside, the new scenes look fun. Gone is Trader Sam, the African headhunter who has a bar named after him at the Disneyland Hotel. In his place is a Trader Sam's gift shop overrun by monkeys! Chimps also overtake a half-sunken ship in another important scene swap. Gone, too, are the days when a skipper led passengers into "headhunter" territory with a deadpan joke that it's not a place you want to "be...headed." Animatronic natives danced and chanted, but a pile full of skulls on their boat proved foreboding. And sure enough, riders came under hostile attack with natives brandishing spears from the foliage. Puffs of air blasted overhead simulated a close-call with poison darts. Since a blockbuster movie of the same name starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is coming out this month, there was speculation that the ride's racial revamp was prompted by it when announced. Now with the soft-opening, some of the new scenes are said to align with the film. But in a pre-pandemic trailer released in 2019, Johnson's character spots "marauders" in the distance. A group of brightly-painted natives appear in the jungle and shoot darts at his boat, just like the ride in olden days. In the trailers that have followed up since, nothing of the sort is shown. Did Disney pull those sequences from the film as well? Or does the movie take a step back while the attraction steps forward and sails in less-offensive waters?

It's something to watch for when Jungle Cruise arrives in theaters later this month--and as we applaud the Mouse House for finally ditching colonialist stereotypes on the ride. It only took them 66 years!

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Lead photo: SAPD Gang Unit patrol car / Flickr user: 888bailbond

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