Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada stepped down on Monday, Oct. 23, bringing an end to an increasingly rocky tenure.
The city announced that Quezada, 48, left with a settlement package, the details of which officials would not immediately disclose. The agreement settled a claim, often a precursor to a lawsuit, the chief filed against the city earlier this year citing “intolerable” working conditions.
Deputy Chief Julian Harvey is serving as acting chief.
Quezada, Anaheim’s police chief for nearly four years, had been with the department since 1996 and received total compensation of $417,880, which included a salary of $250,950, in 2016. The first Latino to hold the agency’s top post, he became chief in the wake of riots and civil unrest that followed a series of fatal shootings by police in 2012.
Quezada helped make changes to repair relations with the community, such as giving officers body cameras and creating a neighborhood advisory council, but the chief has recently had relationship problems within the department.
In 2016, Capt. Jarret Young questioned whether Quezada and Deputy Chief Dan Cahill failed to properly account for paid time off; a subsequent eight-month investigation by an outside attorney found no wrongdoing.
At some point, Quezada fell out of favor with the Anaheim Police Association, whose rank-and-file officers overwhelmingly approved a vote of no-confidence against him in August.
About the same time, Quezada filed a claim against the city, alleging his authority was undermined when the city didn’t discipline Young with regard to his accusations about the chief.
Neither Quezada or his attorney, John A. Girardi, could be reached for comment Monday.
In a statement, Mayor Tom Tait said Quezada had “overseen critical cultural and operational changes that have brought the department closer to those it serves” and helped rebuild community trust.
Edgar Hampton, the Anaheim Police Association’s president, praised some of Quezada’s changes and agreed that the chief helped improve community outreach. But, he said, “There was a real leadership gap, his inability to get the command staff to work together to tackle some of the issues that we have within our organization.”
The chief’s departure leaves another top post open for Orange County’s most populous city. Officials are currently searching for a city manager and a city attorney.
Anaheim becomes the third major Orange County law enforcement agency that will need a new leader.
In April, Santa Ana’s then-Chief Carlos Rojas stepped down about the same that city’s police union discussed holding a no-confidence vote, though the vote never took place.
In late September, in a lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court against the city, Rojas, who had become police chief for the Bay Area Rapid Transit System in San Francisco, says he faced retaliation and was forced to resign after disclosing suspicious activity by city officials.
In July, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens announced she’ll retire next year from the department, which faces a federal investigation of alleged misuse of jailhouse informants.
Huntington Beach police in August overwhelmingly approved a no-confidence vote against Chief Robert Handy, citing poor morale, a hostile work environment and other issues. But that same month, the City Council showed signs it was strongly behind the chief.