Anaheim Police Sergeant Blasts Cronyism While Taking a Swipe at Interim Chief Raul Quezada

Anaheim Police Dept.
Interim Chief Raul Quezada
Mired in controversy culminating in last year's street clashes in Anaheim between protestors and police, Sergeant Tony Montanarella believes the time is ripe for his department to recover.

In a guest column he authored for the OC Register on Thursday (sheathed behind the Great Paywall of Grand Avenue) Montanarella says that progress has been made, but outlines three key changes that still need to take place. Claiming to speak solely on his own behalf and not for his fellow officers, the police sergeant criticizes what he calls a system of cronyism and corruption in promotions within the department over the past few years--strong allegations indeed!

And as Anaheim awaits the appointment of a new police chief, Montanarella lets it be known, in a not-so-thinly veiled swipe, that current Interim Chief Raul Quezada is not the right person for the job.

Interestingly, the opinion piece publicly hashes out a number of areas of internal dissension within the department in the wake of the riots. Aside from a vapid point about better utilizing social media, the outspoken sergeant declared that the APD needed to get its house in order first and foremost.

"Currently, [it] is obsessed with catering to a very angry vocal minority with political agendas at the expense of the overwhelming majority of the population we serve who support us," Montanarella says. While revealing in terms of where he's coming from, who ever could he be referring to?

Gabriel San Román / OC Weekly
Interim Chief Quezada at a roundtable last month

Interim Chief Quezada and Captain Julian Harvey recently participated in a roundtable in July at the office of a thrift store run by the East Street Community Renewal Initiative (ESCRI). Donna Acevedo and Theresa Smith, mothers whose sons were killed in officer-involved shootings in Anaheim and have since turned into accountability activists, were among the participants. The public discussion was largely a rehash of previously held private meetings.

Of the few key issues to arise over two hours, Interim Chief Quezada reconfirmed that officer Kelly Phillips, who was recently cleared in the killing of Acevedo's son, Joel, last year, was, in a discretionary move, assigned out of Guinida Lane where the fatal shooting occurred.

Is this the kind of interaction and decision making that Sgt. Montanarella finds fault with and describes as obsessive catering? The brief essay doesn't delve into the details. Nevertheless, he rounded up his guest column outlining what the department needed in terms of leadership moving forward deeming the selection of the next chief as "the most important" in its history.

"The city must select a Chief from outside the department: someone who is not beholden to anyone, who owes nothing to anyone and who will bring new blood to an organization in need of a strong independent, experienced police leader," wrote Montanarella in a description that doesn't fit an insider like Quezada who could be visibly seen attached to ex-Chief John Welter's hip in the months leading up to his interim appointment.

Montanarella's outline may sound reasonable on the surface, but hasn't Anaheim been here before? When controversial ex-Chief Roger Baker retired at the end of 2003, the city brought in Welter, an outsider from the San Diego Police Department.

His term ended nine years later in retirement ironically leaving behind a department that Montanarella now says is in need of recuperation.

Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz

Follow OC Weekly on Twitter@ocweekly or on Facebook!

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
18usc241 topcommenter

The preceding comments were from the perspective of an Hispanic American engineer working on “surveillance state” type projects (1992 -2005) who became a victim of that very surveillance state.

It’s why I vote NO on the surveillance state

18usc241 topcommenter

If we start with the assumption that Sergeant Tony Montanarella:

1. is a good cop 

2. who bravely spoke about dysfunction in his own department 

3. who honestly believes that 99.99% of his fellow cops are like him therefore making him not understand or believe the complaints levied by many in the community of Anaheim. 

Then it would confirm something that I have long suspected based on my 15+ years of pondering this OC police community.

That several of the police/sheriffs departments are structured in the same way that Bernie Madoff structured his investment company. One section of the company consisting of legitimate investment work and the other section of the company involved in unspeakable acts of human depravity. The good half of Madoff's company supposedly never understood what he was doing upstairs. Bernie would also hide behind the good members of his company as cover for the criminal crap occurring literally on another floor of the office building. 

So good cop Sergeant Tony Montanarella detects that something is rotten in Denmark, correctly identifies part of the problem but honestly doesn't understand the full scope of the problem. 

If Tony and any other good cop in Orange County knew how they were used and how badly their trust is betrayed, the next protest would contain many a cop.

Anyway those are my two takes on Sergeant Tony Montanarella. 

Thanks for at least speaking out about a real and significant part of the problem. Been waiting for you for quite some time. 

18usc241 topcommenter

So Sergeant Tony Montanarella correctly and bravely steps up and talks about the problems in the leadership structure of the Anaheim police department. 

But he also downplays the "small vocal" group of people voicing concerns/complaints about the Anaheim officers out in the field. He wants to maintain the position that there are serious internal problems with his department while also claiming that these internal problems never spilled over into the community - aka the cops on the street are all misunderstood little angels. The implication: the concerns voiced by these "small groups" in the community are unfounded (because we were bored "keeping up with the Kardashians" and decided hey let's pick a fight with city hall and the local police department - that'll be exciting!) 

Tony, take it from this one cop accountability advocate: you sound like you are trying to have your cake, eat it to, kill the baker and then get an award from the city at the next council meeting. The position doesn't add up for me. 

Another perspective to come.

18usc241 topcommenter

I'll be commenting on this article soon. I'm just too busy picking my jaw up off the floor.


I am very personally angered by this.


I get it – he is opposed to problems endemic to all governmental bureaucracies – and I assume that he is in favor of mom and apple pie as well

Now Trending

Anaheim Concert Tickets

From the Vault