HUNTINGTON BEACH A simmering dispute between the Huntington Beach Police Officers Association, the union representing rank and file cops in the city, and police chief Robert Handy seems to be bubbling over.
The union is set to take a vote of no confidence in the man who has led the department for more than three years, according to several city officials. In addition to being engaged in a prolonged labor negotiation with the city, the union has expressed concerns with such issues as the use of body cameras, staffing levels, pay and infrastructure.
In November, the union sued the city, claiming the city’s labor negotiating transparency ordinance violated its right to meet and confer and bogged down the bargaining process. The negotiations and the lawsuit are ongoing.
Police Officers Association President Dave Humphreys would not comment on the vote or disputes with the chief.
Handy, who enjoys support from the City Council and popularity in the community, said the union and some of its officers have “resisted community policing” measures that he has put in place, most notably his successful effort to outfit the force with body cameras.
He also said there was discord over “allegations of misconduct that we’ve chosen to investigate,” but would not elaborate other than to say none involved use of force.
“Upholding the public trust through high professional standards and accountability is a fundamental role of a police chief,” Handy said in a written statement.
When news began to leak about the union vote, three members of the City Council emailed Police Department employees on Aug. 3 to show support for the chief. Another council member sent a separate email.
A joint letter by Mayor Barbara Delgleize, Mayor Pro Tem Mike Posey and Councilman Erik Peterson read in part, “As your Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem, and City Council Member, we want you all to know that we, along with every other City leader, have the utmost confidence in Chief Handy and we are extremely pleased with the positive leadership he has exhibited.”
In a separate letter, Councilwoman Lyn Semeta said she stood by Handy, adding, “I have been more than impressed with the safety and security the HBPD provides to our community. Under the leadership of Chief Rob Handy, the entire tone and feel of our beachside community has changed for the better.”
Although a no confidence vote sends a clear message to the chief, its practical effect is negligible, according to City Attorney…