The Huntington Beach Police Officers’ Association released the results of a poll in August that revealed 92 percent of the membership had no confidence in Police Chief Rob Handy.
Now, the Huntington Beach Police Management Association (HBPMA), in an “unprecedented move,” is saying pretty much the same thing.
“We represent the captains and lieutenants of the police department and by an overwhelming majority have voted to support an immediate change in the Office of the Chief of Police for the City of Huntington Beach,” the HBPMA announced Wednesday.
“As police managers, we have never before offered an opinion on such matters,” the announcement continues. “In these challenging times, we are committed to protecting the city we are sworn and entrusted with serving. We must ensure the trust, credibility, management and betterment of the department for all.”
The HBPMA cites as reasons “problems of morale, frustration, dissension and a lack of integrity between department employees and Chief Handy.”
While having had it with Handy, the HBPMA vows to stand “ready to help the next acting and full-time Chief of Police restore the department to its full potential,” adding that the agency “has always been reputed as a great department with integrity, respected for being tough on crime, maintaining peace and positive community relations.”
Handy has declined to comment.
In light of the HBPMA vote, Dave Humphreys, the Huntington Beach Police Officers’ Association president, on Thursday renewed the union’s call for Handy’s ouster.
“Chief Handy lost the support of police officers on the beat long ago, but yesterday’s call by his own management team was unprecedented in our city’s history,” says Humphreys in an email. “I can’t imagine why he thinks he should remain on the job.”
Given the combined discord from management and rank-and-file officers, Humphreys says, “We are not talking about a few disgruntled voices with Chief Handy. We’re talking an entire symphony of opposition from the top down to the way he has lowered the once high standards of the Huntington Beach Police Department. If he can’t find it within him to do the right thing and resign, it’s time the City Council starts nudging him toward the door.”
Amid the cop union’s no confidence vote in August, five Huntington Beach City Council members who employ Handy signed a statement expressing their support for the job he is doing.
The HBPMA claims that, like the police union, it tried to iron out its problems with Handy for several months before a no confidence vote was taken.
“We have tried for years to navigate the deteriorating relationship between department employees and Chief Handy,” states the HBPMA announcement. “The damaged relationship between Chief Handy and an overwhelmingly large percentage of the department’s employees is beyond repair.
“As we strive to remedy this issue, the members of the Huntington Beach Police Department will continue to provide the exemplary service our citizens have come to expect. HBPMA strongly recommends and supports an immediate change in the Office of the Chief of Police.”
Humphreys and the rank-and-file officers he represents previously cited as a reason for the discord Handy’s implementation of a controversial policy to coerce DNA swabs from people for an Orange County District Attorney data bank. “Police officers feared this was potentially illegal, violating the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” the union boss stated at the time. Humphreys accused Handy of reacting by saying the policy would continue. The OCDA wound up amending it anyway and providing direction to cops to stay within the law.
Handy was also accused by the union of mismanagement, totalitarianism, lowered hiring standards, contempt for the labor process and creating a hostile work environment, and they blamed him for rises in aggravated assaults, robbery, burglary, auto thefts and identity theft in Huntington Beach.
Handy confided after the August vote that he was disappointed but would not let it change his vision for the department.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.