Council forum on Chico police draws packed house Organizers claim distortions by one candidate, Chico E-R

photo by Karen Laslo

City Council candidate Rich Ober

by Dave Waddell

The four Chico City Council candidates speaking at a forum Monday night agreed on the need for fundamental change at Chico PD, including increased crisis intervention training, greater citizen oversight, and more cops out walking and on bicycles.

Those candidates – Alex Brown, Scott Huber, Rich Ober and Ken Rensink – for two hours answered questions from Concerned Citizens for Justice (CC4J), which sponsored the forum, as well as from members of an audience that filled a meeting room at the Chico branch of the Butte County Library. read more

Reformers, police chief agree on principles Concerned Citizens for Justice wants culture change, oversight

photo by Dave Waddell
Margaret Swick

by Dave Waddell

They aren’t yet holding hands and singing “Kumbaya,” but citizens wanting culture change at Chico PD are in basic agreement with Police Chief Mike O’Brien on principles for reform.

The group, Concerned Citizens for Justice (CCJ) — which will hold its monthly community meeting this evening — has produced a six-point plan for reform to encourage use of de-escalation practices by Chico police and to ensure there is training in behavioral health crisis intervention.

CCJ meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14, at Rhema Hall, 574 E. 12th St. in Chico. read more

Citizen review of Chico police urged by group Phillips, Rushing shootings prompted six-point reform plan

photo by Karen Laslo

Emily Alma

By Dave Waddell

A group of citizens that has produced an ambitious “vision” for Chico police reform first came together last year after the officer-involved-shooting deaths of Desmond Phillips and Tyler Rushing.

“We were like magnets,” said Margaret Swick, a member of a group calling itself Concerned Citizens for Justice. “We were just pulled together. We were just concerned about the police shootings.”

On Monday (June 18) from 6 to 8:30 p.m., Concerned Citizens for Justice will give a community airing to its six-point program for “improving the climate of respect between law enforcement and the community.” One reform the group describes as “essential” is establishing “an independent, impartial citizen board with authority to review all police files.” The public meeting will be held at the Chico branch of the Butte County Library, 1108 Sherman Ave. read more

Sergeant in assault case logged massive overtime District attorney: Chokehold incident caught on body camera

ChicoSol/Tehama Group Communications graphic

by Dave Waddell

Scott Ruppel, a former police sergeant involved in two fatal shootings and facing an assault charge for an alleged on-duty choking incident, worked many thousands of hours of overtime during his nearly 20 years at Chico PD.

One year, Ruppel logged more than 700 overtime hours, becoming not only the highest-compensated employee in the city’s largest department but among the top five employees in total compensation in all of Chico municipal government.

Ruppel retired Sept. 15 prior to a scheduled internal affairs interview about police body camera footage allegedly showing the sergeant putting a handcuffed, seat-belted suspect into a stranglehold for eight seconds, said Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey. Ruppel, whose annual CalPERS pension is in the six figures, has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge of assault under “color of authority.” His next Superior Court date is set for Feb. 28. read more

Chico PD sergeants to wear body cameras Activist wants to see community oversight of videos

photo by Dave Waddell

Sherri Quammen holds a protest sign calling for justice for three victims of shootings by Chico police officers.

by Dave Waddell

Police Chief Mike O’Brien — lauding the use of body-worn cameras by his patrol officers — says cameras will also soon be attached to the blue uniforms of Chico PD’s 13 sergeants.

As first reported here by ChicoSol, Chico Police Department patrol officers began sporting the body cameras last April, a couple of weeks after two policemen shot and killed Desmond Phillips, a young black man in mental crisis.

O’Brien said that after 10½ months of use, he would give the camera experience a “very favorable” evaluation. read more

Chico buys guns for cops to own City’s gun-buying escalated with Down Range

by Dave Waddell

In the last three years alone, the financially strapped city of Chico has paid out nearly $25,000 to buy at least 40 guns of undisclosed types for the personal ownership of its police officers, according to a search of online records by ChicoSol.

Such gun transactions – made possible by a $900 per year “uniform allowance” afforded to all of the Chico Police Department’s more than 90 “sworn personnel” – skyrocketed with the advent of the Down Range Indoor Training Center three years ago. read more