Claremont Insider: Pomona Police Chief Ousted

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pomona Police Chief Ousted

In case you missed it, Pomona's dismissed its popular Police Chief Joe Romero earlier this week.

Romero, who grew up in Pomona and who worked his way up through the ranks, was well-liked by most Pomonans but clashed with a number of the city's politicians, namely former mayor Norma Torres, current mayor Elliot Rothman, and councilmember Christina Carrizosa.

Rothman, who was elected mayor last month, was arrested in October on a DUI charge after failing a field sobriety test (no charges were filed, however), and Carrizosa disagreed with the police department's use of DUI and driver's license checkpoints.

On Tuesday, John Clifford at the M-M-M-My Pomona blog first reported the dismissal/firing/retirement (depending on whom you ask), and Clifford's post has drawn a large number of comments, including one from Pomona councilmember Paula Lantz.

The Bulletin carried an editorial yesterday that summed up the sentiments of a good many Pomonans:

O Pomona.

What have you done now?

You've dumped a homegrown police chief who was not only an excellent chief but an important part of the city's fabric.

A chief who has taken more concrete action in support of the city's Youth and Family Master Plan than perhaps anyone else in town - certainly more than any members of Pomona's City Council.

Joe Romero got the word Tuesday from City Manager Linda Lowry.

Once again, the political agendas of council members and their backers have conspired to deal Pomona's citizens a serious setback.

Chief Romero was one of the best things Pomona had going for it, as we said about a year ago in this space when we publicly asked him not to resign over public indignities he had suffered from then-Mayor Norma Torres.

"Romero, a lifelong resident who clearly loves the place, understands the hammer that law enforcement has to apply, but he's just as good at using a velvet glove to help keep at-risk kids on the right side of the law," we said then.

Bulletin columnist David Allen also weighed in with his best guesses as to the political jiu jitsu involved in the Romero affair:
I can see why Rothman would put out a hit on Romero, and it certainly sends a warning shot across the bow of any employee tempted to step out of line.

On the other hand, Romero may soon be free to tell us everything he knows. And I'll bet he knows plenty.

As for the DUI checkpoints, those have been a bone of contention for Carrizosa. Some of her constituents driving without a license have had their cars seized.

Those checkpoints take place in pretty much every Inland Valley city without much complaint, and I don't think Carrizosa's crusade plays well outside her district. But grasping the bigger picture has never been Pomona politicians' strong suit.

As the M-M-M-My Pomona comments indicate, there may be enough anger over the Romero dismissal to prompt a recall of Mayor Rothman. Goddess of Pomona is certainly in favor of a recall:
I've been vacillating between sadness and anger since hearing that Chief Romero was fired. Even 6 year old Mr. Big is outraged. Earlier tonight he announced that we should fire whomever fired the chief. This prompted Mr. Biggest to proclaim in no uncertain terms, "This new mayor must be recalled." Pretty strong words for two guys who gets all their Pomona information from me! But seriously, I've just come from reading the comments over at M M M My Pomona, and am so jazzed to see that my family isn't the only ones talking recall.

Goddess also points out that there's a new site, Recall Rothman, that's collecting email addresses for a recall effort. We'll see if this really translates into any real world action. It's easy to get all worked up about a recall, even when it may be warranted. It's another thing to actually go through the mechanics of a recall election, which takes a lot of money, time, and sweat equity.

The city of Pomona, in the meantime, has undertaken some damage control, and Pomona officials, including Chief Romero, are spinning the matter as a voluntary retirement.