John Welter, Controversial Anaheim Police Chief, Retires
"Chief Welter's dedication to the City of Anaheim is to be commended, and on behalf of the entire City Council, our thanks for his service to Anaheim's residents, businesses and guests over these past nine years," Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait says in a city press release.
Those nine years, though, were marked with many controversial officer-involved shootings that culminated in riots last summer.
No mention of the tumultuous times is made in an announcement released today by Anaheim bureaucrats. In its send-off, the city instead hails what they call his innovative practices such as the forming of a Chief's Advisory Board, the establishment of the Anaheim Family Justice Center, and an emphasis on community orientated policing.
In the end, none of those approaches were able to stem the tide of mistrust between law enforcement and the city's barrios and poorer areas that boiled over out into the streets on July 24, 2012. In a press conference, Welter claimed at the time that the social unrest was fueled by an overwhelming presence of "outsiders" and "anarchists." A heavily militarized response to protests on July 29, 2012 followed harnessing further criticism of the department.
The politically savvy chief was able to largely avoid organized calls for his removal though and, as such, calls it a career on his own terms.
Welter's departure, which follows Deputy Chief Craig Hunter's own retirement late last year, comes in the wake of the Orange County District Attorney's office finding that Anaheim police officer Nick Bennallack was justified in the fatal July 21, 2012 shooting of Manuel Diaz. The news also arrives at a time when demands for a civilian review board for police oversight in Anaheim get louder and louder.
No word has been given as to who will succeed him as Chief, though Deputy Chief Raul Quezada has been seen by Welter's side ever since being promoted last Fall like a loyal apprentice. What direction the Anaheim Police Department takes after Welter remains to be seen.
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