We’re not against the police. We’re not against the police department, but we are against police who commit misconduct (and those who help cover it up).
This story has been updated on 6/4/2015.
It seems that as the school year comes to an end, one group of Orange County parents has had enough of a fellow parent’s shenanigans.
Some parents of the Anaheim Hills community have filed a complaint with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office and Los Angeles Chief Charlie Beck on what they say is LAPD Detective III Shelley Villanueva’s (33847) blatant misuse of her take home vehicle.
Apparently since the school year started in 2014, Detective Villanueva, who just happens to supervise the department’s 650 squad that is in charge of catching officers breaking the law, has been parking her department issued GMC Arcadia in the red zone so that she can conveniently walk her child into class each morning and pick them up in the afternoon. This, much to the chagrin of other parents who have to follow the rules—and I might add to the rest of us who know good and damn well we cannot park in the red zone.
So the parents got together and performed their own surveillance of Detective Villanueva’s comings and goings from the school and fired off a letter with the photos to Garcetti and Beck in hopes that the issue can be taken care of “quickly and correctly.” And for good measure, they reached out to me as well as some other local media folks.
They noted in their complaint how the license plates of Detective Villanueva’s vehicle has been changed.
I believe them on that point.
The 650 squad changes the license plates of their vehicles all of the time. Remember, this is a group of people who don’t even show up as employees on personnel rosters I don’t think. They investigate the police.
Now, Detective Villanueva is also no stranger to us.
I wrote about her before in covering Christopher Dorner.
It was Detective Shelly Villanueva who allegedly asked now retired Internal Affairs Commander Jeri Weinstein about how they should handle the Long Beach Police Department’s domestic violence report involving Dorner’s training officer Teresa Evans. Weinstein advised Villanueva that it was not relevant and not to bring it up in the investigation into Dorner’s allegations against Evans. And I’m told she didn’t and that’s why the public never knew that on that part, Dorner had told the truth about Evans’ problems at home. You can read all about it here.
Anyway, it’s clear Detective Villanueva has been busted. Now the department and city may not give a damn what she does in her vehicle, although I don’t think dropping off her kid is “official” city business, but the good folks over at the Anaheim Hills community are watching and something tells me if this problem isn’t rectified and soon, they are prepared to make this a bigger issue.
It is kind of funny though that someone who is charged with investigating police officers is herself the target of an investigation and surveilled by a group of pissed off parents.
I received the following email and it was right on point so I thought I’d share it.
I used to work SOD and I know that there is a double standard. I know several other officers that did the same thing (personal use of SOD vehicle) as Villanueva and they were removed from SOD the next day!
Villanueva is good friends with Chief McCarthy and Beck and they are not going to do anything to her. They tried sweeping this under the rug until your article came out. She is still assigned to SOD and has not been moved.
You are not allowed to use your City car for personal use or park in red zones. I know officers that have gotten personnel complaints for parking black and whites in the red zone and received suspension days.
No penalty for Villanueva and she is in charge of policing the police. What kind of message does that send to the troops.
How does SOD have any credibility left if she is still assigned to SOD? Ethics Enforcement (SOD) would not have any problem initiating a complaint against a patrol officer for doing a lot less.
Double standard for IA again.
Well this person’s email got me to thinking about the department’s own rules that appear to be broken. So I am going to take a stab at racking up the possible charges and discipline one might face if caught doing this based on what I know and what others who have been caught in similar situations were disciplined with.
So let’s see…
Now keeping in mind that technically according to the LAPD’s own rules, each and every time Detective Villanueva violated a department rule it is considered a separate count. For example, if she parked in the red 20 times then she should be charged with illegally parking in the red 20 times–just like you or me would if we had gotten caught doing the same thing.
Charges she could face include:
- Neglect of duty
- Conduct unbecoming
- False and misleading statements
- Theft of city time
- Discourtesy (ask Sgt. Jim Parker about this one)
- Failure to report
It would look a little something like this:
I’m not sure what Captain Alvarez and Deputy Chief McCarthy and Chief Beck plan to do about this, but what I am sure of is that if nothing is done in the way of discipline, any officer caught doing the same will now have an even stronger leg to stand on. Just one count of not following the home garaging policy is punishable by a 5-day suspension and we’re talking about a whole school year of this behavior. Either Beck suspends or demotes Detective Villanueva or this type of behavior will no longer be enforceable by Internal Affairs. Bottom line.
And that’s just her charges. Technically, the department could also levy charges against the hubby too who is also a cop and I am sure knew what was going on. At the very least, he could be looking at acquiescing.
These parents by way of their covert surveillance of blatant misconduct have presented the LAPD brass with a serious dilemma. Do they discipline a favored employee and show that everyone is equal or do they turn their heads the other way and conduct business as usual?
It’ll be interesting to see the fallout from this.
Well that didn’t take long. It seems this is one group of determined parents. Now they say they have observed Detective Villanueva using the carpool lane while riding solo in her city issued vehicle.
In a follow up letter to the Mayor, Inspector General Alex Bustamante and Chief Beck, the parents sent photos of a Black GMC Arcadia I’m assuming in the carpool lane.
Looks like I need to amend the list of charges to include:
On various occasions ranging from [insert date] to [insert date] employee drove in the (HOV) High occupancy vehicle lane without proper required passengers and or transponder.
The parents want you to note that Detective Villanueva could not even take the time to park just ten feet up in the yellow loading zone. She always insists on pulling into the red fire emergency zone in front of the school.
A few of things.
One, the parents sent me a few more pics this time in color so that folks could clearly see that Detective Villanueva is in the red. I really have to say, the more I think about it, the more I believe these parents might be good candidates for the department’s 650 squad because they obviously know how to surveil a police officer. I’m just saying.
Two, I was informed that Detective Villanueva was basically given a slap on the wrist by her supervisor and told to stop parking in the red when dropping off her kid at school.
Three, I thought it might be helpful for some of the naysayers to read the Ethics Enforcement Section Integrity Test Quarterly Report (Fourth Quarter 2014) that was sent to the Board of Police Commissioners on May 18, 2015.
This is important because this is the exact type of work that our subject Detective Villanueva is tasked with. She’s not just a regular cop or some homicide detective. She is charged with upholding the ethics and integrity of the Los Angeles Police Department which is why what these parents have caught her doing is so egregious.
The Ethics Enforcement Section was created in 2001 and is made up of undercover detectives and sergeants who track and analyze officers’ activities, looking for problems. Basically they create situations and then test offcers to see if they follow the rules. For example, one of these undercover officers might try to coerce another officer into splitting $5,000 found in the car of a suspect. If the officer agrees, bam they got them. That type of work.
Below is the executive summary and you can click here to read the entire report.
Ethics Enforcement Section Integrity Test Quarterly Report (Fourth Quarter 2014)
May 18, 2015
TO: The Honorable Board of Police Commissioners
FROM: Chief of Police
SUBJECT: ETHICS ENFORCEMENT SECTION QUARTERLY REPORT, FOURTH QUARTER, 2014
The mission of Special Operations Division/Ethics Enforcement Section (EES) is to safeguard the integrity of law enforcement operations within the Los Angeles Police Department. In accordance with this mission, EES works closely with Internal Affairs Group and other Department managers to identify at-risk personnel and behaviors. Once identified, EES develops proactive strategies to test and curtail these behaviors.
At the conclusion of each quarter, EES prepares a statistical report that includes an analysis of the number, type, and final disposition of integrity tests conducted, e.g., Pass, Fail, Inconclusive. Because of the confidentiality of these tests, the Quarterly Report, which is a public document, does not include many details, e.g., employee names, description of scenarios.
In the past, EES Quarterly Reports have only included seven misconduct categories (see below). In order to make these reports more comprehensive, EES now tracks a wider range of misconduct categories (see below), in addition to the seven original categories that were established as a result of the Federal Consent Decree.
Until otherwise instructed, EES will continue to use these original seven categories when reporting their activities each quarter:
- Unlawful stops.
- Unlawful searches.
- Unlawful seizures (to include false arrest).
- Use of unauthorized force.
- Violations of LAPD Manual Section 4/264.50 (Enforcement of US Immigration Laws).
- Officers who discourage the filing of complaints or fail to report misconduct or complaints.
The following additional misconduct categories will now be reported in a separate matrix within this, and future Quarterly Reports:
- Neglect of Duty
- Excessive Force
- On-Duty Conversion (Converting on-duty contact to off-duty relationship)
- Sexual Misconduct
- Planting of Evidence
- Other Unbecoming Conduct
- Outside Agency
To ensure the Department’s goals are met, EES pursues the following three objectives:
- Develop objective integrity tests that accurately assess a Department employee’s conduct when placed in a situation with the potential for at-risk behavior.
- Serve as a resource for command staff and investigators to identify and investigate Department employees involved in potential at-risk behavior.
- Create a sense of omnipresence throughout the Department with the goal of having all employees handle each assignment legally and ethically, adhering to Department policy and procedure.
In addition to the specific misconduct categories previously described, EES integrity tests are divided into one of three basic categories:
Integrity Tests (Staged or Observational)
Staged scenarios involve undercover EES personnel who test employees for adherence to Department policy and procedure. When a staged integrity test is developed to assess a particular employee or unit, e.g., Newton Vice, for a specified misconduct category for which the person or unit to be tested is suspected of violating, the operation is known as a Specific Integrity Test. An integrity test conducted on an employee or unit where no prior suspicion existed is referred to as a Random Integrity Test.
EES personnel covertly monitor field units during their regular activities. During an Observational integrity test, EES personnel follow on-duty employees to evaluate various aspects of their performance during a given period: driver safety, interaction with the public, legality of detentions and arrests, accuracy of police reports, etc.
Personnel Complaint (Form, 1.28) Intake Tests (Field or Telephonic)
This intake test is similar to a staged integrity test in that an undercover officer is deployed to test employee(s) for adherence to Personnel Complaint intake procedures.
These tests are conducted by undercover officers who telephone various police stations to report police misconduct. As in the Field test described above, these tests assess for adherence to Personnel Complaint intake procedures. Calls are made to Area front desks, traffic divisions, specialized divisions, and various administrative offices throughout the Department.
Special Operation (Outside agency assist or technical assets only)
Involves the deployment of electronic monitoring equipment to test for misconduct, e.g. theft, vandalism. These tests do not involve the deployment of undercover officers.
Occasionally EES assets are provided to assist other City departments, e.g., Fire Department, City Attorney, or other local police agencies.
Stay tuned…I’m working on something major connected to this story.