In 2006, current Willows Police Chief Bill Spears left the Santa Maria Police Department, "over concerns about low morale and differences he had with the chief [currrent Chief Danny Macagni]", according to an interview with Spears printed recently in the NNN Reporters Newsroom Forum online web site.
Early Sunday morning, January 29th, 2012, Spears learned that a Santa Maria officer he had once commanded was forced to shoot and kill a fellow officer, a former Police Explorer scout Spears had once mentored.
"I got a call about an hour after it happened," Spears said.
Spears said that although he was getting his information second-hand, from verbal reports and news articles, he doesn't believe he would have handled the officer's arrest in the manner it was handled.
Spears said he helped develop the Police Explorer program in Santa Maria while he was on the force and always insisted on the "two-deep rule".
"That means two officers must be present at all times during Explorer functions, just so something like this can be avoided, or halted before it becomes an issue."
Well, there's a concept. One Tin Soldier wonders at what point, after 2006, when Chief Spears left the Sana Maria Police Department, did Chief Danny Macagni change the "two-deep" rule so as to set Covarrubias up to fail?
It certainly wasn't a conscious plan on Chief Macagni's part. However, the clear Santa Maria Police Department "lack of ethical leadership from the top" (as charged by former Santa Maria Police officer Greg Carroll at the February 6th Santa Maria City Council meeting) created almost an internal sting situation where somewhere, sometime, an officer would trip.
An officer did trip . . . and he paid for it with his life.
And his fellow officers will pay for it also.
Spears said, "This could cast a shadow over the officer who shot Covarrubias and some of the other officers for the rest of their careers." (Ed. note: There are 100 officers in the Santa Maria Police Department.)
"I feel bad for everyone involved in this, but I'm especially worried about the officer that did the shooting," Spears said. "It's bad enough for an officer to have to shoot anyone [emphasis added] on the job, but killing a fellow officer, under any circumstance, makes it much more traumatic," Spears stated.
Spears added that he wouldn't be surprised to see some officers resign in the wake of what he called "a gut-wrenching tragedy."
Gut-wrenching indeed. And the wrenching will continue, as Santa Maria residents continue to put pressure on the Sana Maria City Council to fire Chief Macagni.