Newport Beach stands behind its police department with resolution of support

Newport Beach police arrest a man suspected of driving his car into a crowd of protesters.
Newport Beach police arrest a man suspected of driving his car into a crowd of protesters June 3.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

In an era of hostility between citizens and police elsewhere, Newport Beach let its police department know Tuesday how much it’s appreciated.

A resolution, unanimously passed by the City Council, applauded officers for how they handled several local protests earlier this summer that were part of an international movement against police brutality in the United States.

The resolution specifically spotlights the Newport force’s response on June 3, when five separate protests took place at various times and locations in town, drawing a combined 2,500 people. The protests were held to call out racial injustice in the wake of the death of George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis police, and among dozens of similar protests in Orange County over the summer.

Aside from a local man driving his car through a crowd on Balboa Boulevard and another allegedly brandishing a handgun at marchers near the area of 30th Street and Newport Boulevard, the day of protest was peaceful, which the council attributed to police professionalism.

Councilwoman Joy Brenner said officers’ recent expanded service has also included standing by for mass baptisms in the Pacific Ocean and the popular late-night bioluminescence events from a red tide that made the waves glow neon blue.

“You always rise to the occasion and always treat everyone with such respect and dignity, and we really appreciate that,” she said. “When the defund police movement stated it was such a pleasure for us to be able to answer those emails that we got, generally from people far away, saying we don’t need to defund our police because our police do so much more than just deal with criminals.”

A sheriff’s deputy accidentally discharged a service weapon at John Wayne Airport and shot an employee in the arm, authorities said on Wednesday.

Mayor Pro Tem Brad Avery praised a collective interpersonal intelligence “in dealing with people and de-escalating and stepping up when it’s required, but knowing when to just kind of hold back. I think that is something that is so lacking in so many places today.”

Newport, however, hires good people and trains them well, he said.

The council resolution of support praised the Newport department’s protest coverage and by extension the department in general.

“To conclude the 12-hour day without any major incidents, property damage or injuries to officers or protesters is a demonstration of the Newport Beach Police Department’s exceptional professionalism, preparation and planning ... the fashion in which the Newport Beach Police Department maintained order and provided a safe environment for all participants is a testament to their commitment to community needs, desires and values, and further embodies how the Newport Beach Police Department continues to be an extension of and reflection of those they so proudly serve,” the resolution read.

And to those people, they’re accessible, said Councilwoman Diane Dixon.

“Residents will say this is the only city they know where they can wave and get a wave back from our police,” she said.

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