Pasadena’s Interim Police Chief Plans ‘Change of Command Review’

Announces independent Police Foundation will review the Chris Ballew violent arrest incident and prepare a public report

Published : Thursday, April 12, 2018 | 7:06 PM

Incoming Pasadena Interim Chief of Police John Perez

[Updated] Pasadena’s Interim Police Chief John Perez plans to announce a set of priorities and plans, including a “Change of Command Review” for the department, upon taking the helm of the 250-officer police agency next week, documents show.

The agenda for the City’s Wednesday Public Safety Committee meeting includes an outline for Perez’s first Chief’s Monthly Report to the Committee, in which he discusses an independent department review, plans for community engagement and enhanced officer training with the goal of reducing incidents of use-of-force by police.

Perez is expected to be sworn in as interim police chief to replace Police Chief Phillip Sanchez, who has announced plans to retire, effective Wednesday.

“The (monthly) report will provide information key issues and work plan updates involving the Police Department,” according to the outline. “The intent is to provide the Public Safety Committee and the community with a better understanding of the Department’s Operations, community engagement efforts and challenges.”

Another issue Perez brought up was an independent review of the department’s policies and practices as the department’s leadership changes.

“The change of command in the Pasadena Police Department provides a unique opportunity to undertake an assessment of various issues currently facing the Department,” Perez said.

To help in the introspection, Perez said staff has approached the Police Foundation, which the city has already contracted with to carry out an independent review of the death of Reginald Thomas Jr. following a struggle with police in late-2016.

Perez said he will assign tasks to the Police Foundation as needed, but outlined four he already had in mind.

The interim chief called for a review of the Pasadena Police Department’s gun purchase waiver policies, as well as its practices over the past three years.

A former Pasadena police lieutenant, Vasken Gourdikian, currently faces federal charges of illegal gun dealing and is accused of abusing his position as a police officer, including getting waivers from the department to circumvent California’s legally-mandated 10-day waiting period for gun purchases. A second, yet-unnamed officer is on administrative leave pending a related investigation.

Perez also said that, through the City Attorney’s Office, the Police Foundation will review the controversial violent arrest of Christopher Ballew following a traffic stop across the city border in Altadena and prepare a report that will be shared with the public.

And the Police Foundation will also be tasked with reviewing the department’s public outreach efforts, as well as assessing whether there is a need for a department auditor.

Other topics expected to be discussed by Perez at the upcoming Public Safety Committee meeting include improving relations between the community and police, updated training and policies related to use-of-force incidents, body cameras, recruitment efforts, crime statistics and noteworthy “critical incidents,” he said.

The interim chief will discuss a state-certified “Principal-Based Policing” course officers have begun taking part in this month, as well as recent acceleration of the use-of-force review process, “to improve de-escalation techniques and reduce strikes and kicks,” Perez said. Officers will now receive feedback regarding use-of-force incidents within 30 days, rather than waiting on completion of a lengthy administrative review, according to the agenda.

Perez also announced that he and City Manager Steve Mermell plan to meet with community members on April 19 at All Saints Church to discuss issues related to police and policing.

The Public Safety Committee meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Pasadena City Hall Council Chamber. Also scheduled is a discussion of recommendations by the Colorado Street Bridge Task Force to help deter suicides at the iconic structure.








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