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02-02-08, 12:50 PM #1
Convicted cop hired as Maywood police chief
Al Hutchings, formerly with the LAPD, got the job despite opposition from rank-and-file officers and the city's attorney.
By Matt Lait, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
February 2, 2008
A man who was convicted of theft and resigned from the Los Angeles Police Department was hired Friday night as the interim chief of the Maywood Police Department, an agency that has a reputation as a haven for misfit and criminal cops.
Despite fierce opposition from some rank-and-file officers and the city's own attorney, Al Hutchings was selected for the position by the Maywood City Council in a 3-2 vote at a special meeting.
Hutchings' unlikely ascension to the job comes amid ongoing investigations by state and local authorities into allegations of police corruption and brutality in Maywood.
The move stunned many city residents who viewed his consideration as another setback for the troubled Police Department, which patrols a gritty square-mile city south of downtown Los Angeles.
Last year, a Times investigation into Maywood found that at least a third of the officers on the force had either left other police jobs under a cloud or had brushes with the law while working for Maywood. Several officers in recent years left Maywood after being convicted of crimes.
Hutchings was one officer who was hired at Maywood in 2006 despite a checkered past.
Court records show that he had pleaded no contest to bilking the LAPD for bogus overtime pay while he was an officer. He has since received a court order expunging his record.
In an interview, Hutchings said that all of the overtime he worked was approved by a supervisor but that he entered the plea so as to quickly dispose of the case, which he said was filed in retaliation for reporting misconduct against a high ranking-LAPD official. Hutchings was also fired from Los Angeles Valley College in 2005, where he worked as a professor and was terminated for acts of dishonesty.
When Hutchings joined the Maywood Police Department, he said he found that many of his fellow officers were brutal, racist and corrupt. He cast himself as a whistle-blower, working to expose problems.
Before his probationary year was finished, however, Hutchings was accused of misconduct of his own. Police and city officials said he agreed to resign from the Police Department after he was allegedly videotaped having an on-duty liaison with the female owner of a doughnut shop.
Hutchings, 45, has said the allegation was fabricated "to blackmail me into stopping the work that I was doing." He said he voluntarily left the department last summer.
In an interview hours before he was hired, Hutchings said Maywood Police Department was a dysfunctional agency with incompetent officers and that he hoped to "shut the place down and bring in the Sheriff's Department."
He said he would donate his salary to the Catholic church and to people who had been victimized by Maywood officers.
Hutchings replaces another interim chief who was convicted of beating his girlfriend and resigned from the El Monte Police Department before being hired at Maywood. That chief's conviction was overturned on appeal, and he was ultimately convicted of a lesser charge of making a verbal threat.
Known among law enforcement circles as a department of "second chances," Maywood Police Department is one of nearly 50 independent police agencies in Los Angeles County. The department, whose officers are mainly white and Latino, serves a densely populated city of roughly 30,000 that is 96% Latino.
Hutchings' return to the force, for a three-month period pending a search for a permanent chief, has outraged other Maywood officers.
In a letter to city leaders, the president of the Maywood Police Officer Assn. said Hutchings had "displayed a total lack of integrity and honesty in his career as a police officer."
Some city residents questioned why City Council members would take on an interim chief with baggage.
Mayor Felipe Aguirre, prior to Friday's vote, said he supported Hutchings because he believed he was an honest man who would reform the department. "Nobody has the courage to clean this place up," he said. "We need to hire someone who can right this department."Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.
[George Washington (1732 - 1799)]
02-02-08, 03:35 PM #2
Oy! What rock did this one crawl out from under? WOW!!!
Choose The Right. When you're doing whats right, then you have nothing to worry about.
Not a LEO
In memory of Sgt. Howard K. Stevenson 1965 - 2005. Ceres Police Dept.
In memory of Robert N. Panos 1955 - 2008 Ceres Police Dept.
02-02-08, 03:44 PM #3
02-02-08, 05:01 PM #4
That mayor does not seem like the brightest bulb....No one has greater love than this, to lay down ones life for ones friends - John 15:13
"The Wicked Flee When No Man Pursueth: But The Righteous Are Bold As A Lion".
We lucky few, we band of brothers. For he who today sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~The opinions, beliefs, and ideas expressed in this post are mine, and mine alone. They are NOT the opinions, beliefs, ideas, or policies of my Agency, Police Chief, City Council, or any member of my department.
02-02-08, 05:09 PM #5
ever seen that movie "Copland" ?-=Twan007
Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.
Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.
The opinions expressed by this poster are wholly his own, and should never be construed to even remotely be in alignment with his employer. Matter of fact, the poster will deny any knowledge of any post... this message will self-destruct in 5 seconds...
02-02-08, 05:14 PM #6
02-02-08, 05:14 PM #7
Well if he messes up again they will only have themselves to blame."An Unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it." Jeff Cooper
Some people are meant to be the police......Some people are meant to call the police!!!
"Socialism only works in two places: Heaven where they don't need it and hell where they already have it."
" I believe that forgiving them (Terrorist) is God's function. OUR job is to arrange the meeting."
General Norman Schwartzkopf
Not all Muslims are Terrorists, but all Terrorists are Muslim.
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02-04-08, 10:10 AM #8
Police pick has Maywood in uproar
Many residents and officers are frustrated by the City Council's choice of a convicted cop as interim chief.
By Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
February 4, 2008
The controversial selection Friday in Maywood of an interim police chief with a checkered past has dismayed some residents, infuriated rank-and-file officers, put his supporters on the defensive and launched a nasty bit of back-and-forth mudslinging.
At a tense meeting that ran late into the night Friday, a divided City Council picked Al Hutchings to take over the department, which has a reputation as a haven for misfit cops. The decision, made behind closed doors and announced to a council chambers packed with about 125 people, was met with anger from the largely anti-Hutchings crowd.
"Recall! and "Idiots!" some shouted at the three council members who voted for Hutchings, according to several people who attended. Two council members voted against his appointment.
A small group of Hutchings supporters made themselves heard over the racket, shouting "¡Sí, se puede!" ("Yes, it can be done!" in Spanish).
Councilwoman Ana Rosa Rizo was surrounded by residents upset with the decision. They shouted insults at her as she stepped off the dais, Councilwoman Veronica Guardado said in an interview Saturday.
"They are just bullies. This city has been run by a government of fear for years," said Guardado, who along with Rizo was elected last year on promises to clean up a city with a reputation for corruption and waste in the police and other agencies. She praised Hutchings as someone committed to making the Police Department more responsive to residents.
"Ours was the easy part," she said. "Hutchings has the hard job. He's walking into something that is going to be very difficult. I wish him luck."
The troubled department has about 40 officers patrolling the mile-square city south of downtown Los Angeles.
The district attorney and the state attorney general are investigating allegations of police brutality and corruption. A Times investigation into Maywood last year found that a third of the officers on the force had left other police agencies under a cloud and several had criminal records.
Hutchings, 45, is a former Los Angeles police officer who pleaded no contest to bilking the LAPD out of bogus overtime pay. He has since received a court order expunging his record.
After leaving law enforcement, he earned a doctorate and taught at Los Angeles Valley College, but he was fired for alleged acts of dishonesty at the school.
Missing life as a cop, he applied for a job in Maywood and was hired in 2006. He soon started complaining about other officers' misconduct. Later, according to city officials, Hutchings agreed to resign after he was caught having an improper on-duty relationship with the owner of a doughnut shop.
Hutchings fills the void left by another interim chief who himself had a troubled past, notably a conviction for threatening his girlfriend.
Hutchings' tenure is to last no longer than six months while the council searches for a permanent replacement.
"I have a difficult job," he said in an interview Saturday, adding that the challenge had made him "almost sick to my stomach. . . . I don't feel comfortable about it at all."
Hutchings said he entered his no-contest plea in the LAPD case because it was the most expedient and cost-effective way of dealing with false charges that were leveled in retaliation for revealing misconduct on the part of a top LAPD official. He denied that he was dishonest at Valley College and said allegations of misconduct in Maywood were likewise trumped up because he was a whistle-blower exposing bad cops.
"This stuff hurts," he said, referring to the public resurfacing of his past. "There are a lot of guys out there tougher than me who wouldn't do this."
Maywood Mayor Felipe Aguirre, who voted to hire Hutchings, said the new chief would start today but would be fired immediately if a background check contradicted his account of his past or uncovered any other wrongdoing.
Such assurances did little to appease J.C. Rodriguez, president of the police union, which opposed Hutchings' selection. Rodriguez dismissed the dark portrayal of the police force and questioned the choice of Hutchings to clean up alleged corruption. "It makes absolutely no sense to appoint Hutchings," he said.
Rodriguez accused Hutchings of winning favor with Aguirre, Rizo and Guardado through campaign contributions and other financial favors. Aguirre and Guardado denied those contentions, saying they had never received money from Hutchings. Rizo could not be reached for comment. Hutchings also denied that he contributed money to the candidates.
(Continued on Page 2)Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.
[George Washington (1732 - 1799)]
02-04-08, 10:11 AM #9
FOLLOW-UP FLAP Page 2
Police pick has Maywood in uproar
February 4 2008
The union is not organizing any job actions or other protests, Rodriguez said. He indicated, however, that until Hutchings passed a background check, he would be denied passwords to police databases and keys to sensitive areas of the department.
Hutchings said he was bracing for confrontation. Since working in Maywood as an officer, Hutchings said, he has endured anonymous calls threatening his life. Somebody called him "the devil" on the phone after Friday's vote.
"This is a department with a lot of officers with guns," he said. Some of the officers are "nut cases," he added. "The crazies will come out of the woodwork."
Maywood, whose residents are mostly low-income immigrants, is one of the densest cities in the nation. It sits on the edge of the Los Angeles River and in the shadow of the industrial warehouses and railroad tracks of neighboring Vernon. The quiet city's tree-lined streets are lined with modest, neatly kept homes, and its commercial center consists mostly of strip malls at the intersection of Slauson Avenue and Atlantic Boulevard.
Resident Marco Solis, 25, who works at a factory that manufactures plastic trash cans, voiced concern about Hutchings' return.
"It's better to give another person an opportunity," he said as he picked through clothes and furniture at a yard sale on one of the city's narrow residential streets.
Security guard Olga Garcia agreed. "He's corrupt," she said after a midday meal at a Denny's restaurant. "You know his record's dirty. . . . The only thing it's going to achieve is more corruption."
Before Friday's vote, Hutchings said he thought about withdrawing from consideration but decided against it, even if it meant enduring such attacks on his reputation.
Walking away, he said, would have been "the easiest thing to do."
Times staff writer Matt Lait contributed to this report.Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.
[George Washington (1732 - 1799)]
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