The regular Santa Maria City Council meeting last night, February 7th, was anything but "regular", with the clear subject on most of the attendees' minds being the firing of Police Chief Danny Macagni.
The meeting was ostensibly set up to give Chief Macagni yet another opportunity to justify why a member of his own police force was killed by another member of the force. His statement added no more information than has already been reported and is spread all over the Internet -- 20 to 30 pages deep on Google.
Yet Chief Macagni's words did nothing to calm the attendees, with emotions from the audience spilling over into the hallway outside the council chambers.
Although there were some people in attendance who came to back the chief, the majority were there either to verbally demand Chief Macagni's firing or to just sit quietly in the audience, holding signs calling for his resignation and applauding in agreement with the speakers.
Three current and former Santa Maria Police Department officers, including members of the Police Officers Association who have previously filed complaints against the department, blamed not only Chief Macagni, but city administration and government for the tragic killing of Albert Covarrubias, Jr.
Two of the officers, Greg Carroll and Tim Radzyminski, claimed there have been repeated complaints to city personnel and the City Council against the chief. [See this blog's post: Chief Macagni Cops Out and the Santa Maria Sun articles Betraying the Badge and A Department Divided]
The particulars of those ignored complaints, they charged, ultimately led to Covarrubias' death.
"This lack of discipline, this lack of ethical leadership from the top, created an undisciplined department that is now in chaos. It is no surprise today that it all led to this ultimate tragedy," Carroll charged.
One Tin Soldier is pleased to learn that in addition to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Association investigation of the circumstances surrounding Covarrubias' death, the "independent investigator" reported previously by Chief Macagni is a respected organization known for its past investigations of other law enforcement agencies.
The Office of Independent Review, a body created by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, is the organization requested to do a second investigation. This office was originally formed to review complaints against the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. It now also does independent investigations of other law enforcement agencies when requested.
Too bad Greg Carroll and Tim Radzyminski weren't able to present their previous complaints against the Santa Maria Police Department and Chief Macagni to this Office of Independent Review.
Perhaps the death of Covarrubias could have been prevented, and the men and women on our police force would have been spared the agony they're now experiencing.