Two days after a video went viral, showing a Rohnert Park police officer pulling a gun on a man for video recording him in public, the Northern California police department cancelled a scheduled “Coffee with a Cop” event, blaming the online backlash resulting from the video.
In other words, their plan to play the Police PR Spin Machine was going to be thwarted by citizens planning to demand accountability.
That, after all, is supposed to be the purpose behind Coffee with a Cop; a concept created in 2011 by the Hawthorne Police Department in Southern California to create a “framework for establishing trust between the community and the police.”
And anybody can see by the lack of transparency from Rohnert Park city officials these past two days, trust is seriously lacking in that community.
The Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety, which is its official title, an irony considering the gun-wielding cop seemed more apt at public menacing than public safety, made its announcement at 8:25 a.m. PST this morning – only five minutes before the event was scheduled to start at a local McDonalds – and less than 12 hours after they posted a reminder about the event, urging people to attend.
But considering the department has come under heavy criticism on its Facebook page from people from within the community as well as from outside the community, including from many of us here at PINAC, they were under the impression that going through with the event would “cause a disturbance, potentially putting our community and citizens at risk.”
Speaking of which, they still have not released the name of the cop who placed a citizen at risk by pulling his gun on him because he did not appreciate being recorded.
But several sources on Facebook, including an unnamed city official who spoke to a local newspaper, identified the cop as Dave Rodriguez, a 13-year veteran of the police department who made more than $172,000 in salary and benefits in 2013.
According to The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa:
Assistant City Manager Don Schwartz said the city has launched two reviews, an internal review within the police department as well as a separate “civilian review” he is leading within the city manager’s office. City staff will evaluate whether the officer followed city policy and they will also review the policy to ensure it reflects “best practices.”
Schwartz said the city has not been in contact with McComas. A city source identified the officer as Dave Rodriguez. Schwartz, who declined to name the officer, said he was not working this week due to a previously planned vacation.
Mayor Amy Ahanotu said that it was too soon for him to discuss his impressions of the video and pledged the city would discuss the incident once a full review has been done.
“We are concerned about the events and we are taking it seriously,” Ahanotu said.
So it’s the typical circling of the wagons we see from police departments and cities when they are trying to cover up for wrongdoing; the same buzzwords, the same brush-off, the same bullshit.
Just a whole bunch of spin that does nothing but dig themselves deeper in disgrace.
UPDATE: Rohnert Park just issued a statement on Facebook that it has hired an “independent outside investigator” and has placed the officer on “temporary paid administrative leave,” even though they earlier said he was on a “previously planned vacation,” which is almost the same thing.
But it still has not officially released his name, even though Rohnert Park residents are assuring it is, indeed, Rodriguez.
UPDATE II: Two local attorneys announced Thursday that they will be suing the city of Rohnert Park over the incident. The city also finally confirmed that the cop is Dave Rodriguez, according to the Press Democrat. Below is a video of the press conference announcing the lawsuit.