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

photo by Karen Laslo
Down Range Indoor Training Center sign

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.

Down Range, which is outside city limits along Highway 99 on the northern entrance to Chico, is known for boldly advertising the sale of assault rifles, especially around some holidays. The business is co-owned by Chico police officer Steve Dyke and has been gaining a bigger slice of Chico PD’s gun-buying pie each year. read more

Man killed downtown by Chico cop Second fatal police shooting in four months

by Dave Waddell

For the second time in four months, a man has been shot dead by Chico police.

An officer fired his weapon at the unidentified white man inside Mid Valley Title and Escrow in the 600 block of Main Street in downtown Chico shortly after 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

According to Chico police Lt. Billy Aldridge, a man had wounded two police officers and a private security guard with an undisclosed weapon. The officers were treated and released at Enloe Medical Center, while the guard received a “significant” wound.

In the Police Department’s initial statement released this morning, the names of the man killed, the security guard and the officers involved were not divulged. Aldridge said that an investigation of the incident that was started by Chico PD had been turned over to the Butte County Officer-Involved Shooting Investigation Team headed up by District Attorney Mike Ramsey. read more

Timeline backs student’s retaliation claim DA’s probe tracked missing phone all over Chico

Madeline Hemphill

photo by Bianca Quilantan

Madeline Hemphill points to the bush along the Esplanade where she says she was “tackled” by a Chico police officer.

by Dave Waddell

While ruling out officer involvement in a missing cell phone mystery, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey also has disclosed details to ChicoSol that bolster a student’s claim of retaliation by Chico police.

Chico State senior Madeline Hemphill has maintained that five minutes or less elapsed between an initial confrontation with officer Steve Dyke and her arrest in front of her nearby residence. Chico Police Chief Mike O’Brien, in contrast, issued a press statement two days after the Aug. 27, 2016, incident indicating a gap of 28 minutes between the two encounters. read more