November 13, 1987
National City Group Calls for Police Chief's Firing!
C.C.R. Calls Chief of Police Incompetent
By Daniel L. Munoz
National City - The election have passed but the fallout over the strongly contested Proposition O in National City continues. Tuesday night's Council meeting discussed ways and means to build a police station, in spite of voter rejection of Prop O. It has provided a forum for Herman Baca and the Committee on Chicano Rights to demand the firing of National City Police Chief Terry Hart.
"The City Council received a strong message from the voters," Herman Baca, Chairman of the Committee on Chicano Rights (CCR), told the City Council. "Chief hart has mis-administered the Police Department. He has threatened National City voters and has used his offices for political purposes."
Baca and his organization made Prop O a referendum on t he National City Police Department which has in the past been in conflict with the Committee on Chicano Rights over alleged abuse and mistreatment of the City's Mexican residents. "We need a blue ribbon panel to investigate the police department," said Baca. "A strong look has to be taken into the Department's policies, practices and procedures. A 'Civilian Review Board' composed of a cross section of the community with subpoena powers needs to be established by the City Council to investigate all citizen complaints against the Police Department. Until this is done, there can be no support for the Police Department," he said.
Police Chief Hart, at one time during the campaign for the passage of PROP O, threatened the City Council that he would resign and take 30 to 40 of his officers with him if he didn't get a new police station. If carried out, the Department would have lost over half of its personnel.The citizens and City Council took offense at the Chief's threat and forced him to retract his statements.
According to Baca, the issue at stake was not the building of a police station but the operation of the Police Department which is perceived by the Mexican residents as a racist oppressive police force.
Too often in the past, our civil and constitutional rights have been trampled upon by these same officers. At no time, have efforts been made to meet the community half way and seek resolutions to these problems. Chief hart and his Department have been chastised, condemned and charged with unprofessional conduct, racism in its practices, and overzealous in the use of force against Mexicans by law enforcement professionals," pointed out Baca.
During the Council meeting, Chief Hart sat in the back of the crowded chambers. He refused to make comments to the media after the council meeting and left quietly. Mayor George Waters and the City Council took note of the CCR's presentation but made no motion or resolution that would have indicated that they are listening to the voters of National City. City Hall sources informed La Prensa, that the Mayor and Council did not consider the low voter turn out a mandate to do anything about Hart and the Police Department.
"The issue was not the funding but the Police Department," said Baca. "It always has been and will be until substantive changes are made, on how the police department does business in National City," he concluded.