SEAL BEACH : Official Seeks to Enlarge Police Probe

A Seal Beach councilwoman has asked the Orange County district attorney and the state attorney general to investigate allegations against the city's Police Department.

Councilwoman Marilyn Bruce Hastings said she is "disgusted" with what she called the slowness of the city staff's own inquiry into the allegations, contained in a June 13 grand jury report.

"I want you to know that no one on the City Council has had any information from anyone concerning the charges of the grand jury," she said at Monday's City Council meeting.

The grand jury was sharply critical of the Police Department, alleging nepotism, poor morale and numerous complaints from residents of alleged harassment.

Tonight, the city staff is expected to report to the council for the first time on its investigation.

On July 15, Hastings mailed identical letters to Dist. Atty. Michael R. Capizzi and Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp, saying that "only an official effort by (their offices) will enable the city of Seal Beach to properly address the recommendations of the grand jury."

Capizzi on Tuesday said his staff is reviewing Hastings' request but said "it is the function of this office that if there are no criminal implications we take no action." The grand jury report raised no criminal allegations, he added.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office also said Hastings' letter was under review.

Said Police Chief Bill Stearns: "We welcome an investigation by anyone that wishes to indulge in one."

City officials would not comment on any findings in their investigation and today's briefing will not be public because it involves personnel matters. However, City Atty. Quinn Barrow said the staff would report on each of the grand jury's major criticisms of the department, including an unusually high number of stress-related disability retirements.

Hastings said she is worried that city staff will not properly resolve the nepotism issue. The subject of the grand jury's criticism is Stearns, whose wife, Michelle, was moved from animal control officer to court liaison soon after Stearns became acting chief in 1987. There was apparently no attempt to interview other candidates.

City personnel rules say relatives may not work in the same department, but revisions have been proposed to relax that restriction.

"You don't change the rules to accommodate what's been done," Hastings said.

Hastings said that since the grand jury's report, she has received "at the very least" 50 telephone calls from residents, who "want to know what's going on and what are you going to do about (the grand jury's allegations)." Two other council members said they are satisfied with the speed of the city's investigation. "I have no problems with the way the staff is working," said Mayor Edna Wilson.

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