In one of Orange County’s safest cities, voters still think about crime. So do Republican campaigns.
An Orange County Republican Party event was packed to the gills because the party is in a fight over the city’s police department, and the fight is over whether Orange County needs a police chief.
It’s not the first time the Orange County Republican Party has been in a fight about the police department. In the mid-2000s, the party clashed with former mayor Chuck Hassel for not appointing a police chief.
This time, the party is looking to replace Police Chief Jim McDonnell with Robert Garcia, who in June became acting police chief after McDonnell resigned to become city manager.
The party says a Garcia appointment would make the police department more responsive to the community. In the past, the party has said the police department has had too many political demands. Garcia is a former police chief in Anaheim, where he led a turnaround in crime.
Garcia’s background: He was also the president and major stockholder of the Anaheim Police Officers Association. When the union went on strike in 2010, he helped negotiate a contract with the city.
Here’s an excerpt from his speech:
“I know from personal experience that when things are difficult, we sometimes need a person with a gentle touch and an ability to put our best foot forward.”
In his current role as acting chief, he is responsible for more than 1,200 employees, including sergeants, lieutenants and patrol officers.
He also has other responsibilities, including directing the police academy and the district attorney’s special victim/child abuse unit.
According to his biography at Anaheim police websites, he has a degree in psychology and served as an officer with the Department of Youth Services and the Department of Mental Health in San Bernardino County.
In a previous role, he was chief of police in San Bernardino and as a lieutenant colonel in the US Army Reserve.
When he ran for city council, he was criticized for not using his security training as a means to “get elected.”
Now: Garcia became acting chief after