Home > Uncategorized > INNOCENT: Grand Jury concludes police chief investigation

INNOCENT: Grand Jury concludes police chief investigation

Garr-NielsenA slew of complaints against Eureka Police Chief Garr Nielsen were found to be “without merit” according to the 2008-09 Grand Jury Final Report.  The complaints were filed by EPD personnel.

This week’s Journal cover story painted an ugly picture of life inside the Department, and said the “anti-Nielsen side shows no sign whatsoever of backing down” and predicted “ongoing dysfunction in the city’s most critical institution.” But the Grand Jury found inevitable tension stemming from much-needed changes at EPD were improving.

“The center of antagonism against the Police Chief has been reduced to a small group of employees who may never come to terms with some of the changes our municipal leaders are seeking within the Police Department,” according to the Report.

The Grand Jury investigated complaints including the unauthorized use of City property, seeking and receiving improper compensation for professional and/or personal expenses, engaging in illegal hiring practices, abuse of authority, misrepresentation of Peace Officer certification status, retaliation against a Department employee, incomplete conflict of interest statement and sharing information inappropriately with professional colleagues.

The Grand Jury notes that Nielsen was given “firm and specific direction by both the City Council and the City Manager to implement significant changes in the Police Department” including reform of the “existing and historical culture within the Department.

No responses to the report are required.

The Report encourages everyone in the Department to “seek ways to move beyond the current tension… and to “refocus the attention of everyone in the Department on its fundamental mission to serve and to protect the citizens of our community.”

  1. July 2, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Okay everyone, back to work everyone.

  2. Anonymous
    July 2, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    This is going to ruin David Tyson’s day.

  3. Anonymous
    July 2, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    You know, a quick look at the report makes it clear that the grand jurors were disgusted with the complainers:

    Since the Grand Jury may only require responses from government officials or agencies, and may not require responses from individuals in lower-level positions of public employment, the Jury is not asking for any responses to this report.

    That translates as: we’d love to haul your asses in and make you explain yourselves, but it’s not within our rights.

  4. Ed
    July 2, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    What? No anonymous whining? C’mon, Let the anonymous whining begin!

  5. plannax
    July 2, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Where’d all the haters go?

  6. anon
    July 2, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Yeah bet tyson is having a stiff drink or 10 right now…and probably thinking about how he should clean his own house, or wait, is he just in touch with his realtor cuz he is looking to “trade up?”

  7. Not A Native
    July 2, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    NO, not back to work everyone. Now Nielsen gets rid of that “group of employees” who were responsible for the department mess in the first place and are creating more mess now. They’re “dead enders” and need to be ousted, pronto.

    And no retiring on disability for any of them either. They’ve already cost the community dearly in loss of public confidence and respect for police. Its pretty clear who they are and they need to go.

  8. ThinkingOutLoud2
    July 2, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    When you have to plunge a toilet you still have to clean your tools and all the surfaces in the surrounding area. Not very often you get any help with the cleanup. Once you start the job you are expected to finish it. When you finish, not matter how clean you leave the facility, those that asked you to clean it still will consider you “soiled”. Go figure….

  9. Just Lookin On
    July 2, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Well, isn’t this interesting. Maybe now the City Manager will start supporting the best police chief this city has ever seen.

  10. average Eurekan
    July 2, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Up with Gar!

  11. anon
    July 2, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Let’s take nominees for the pied piper role in this drama,,, who will be the lead rat that leaves the pd and takes the other rats with her?

  12. Just Lookin On
    July 2, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    I bet you she has has already resigned. Good riddance.

  13. Clean Cut McDaddy
    July 2, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    You have missed the best part of the grand jury report. Regarding Kirk Girard the report finds:

    “In a report to the Planning Commission on November 29, 2007, CDS staff omitted portions of state code, thus providing incomplete and potentially misleading information.”

    This is related to the TPZ fiasco.

    Kirk, you have some explaining to do.

  14. Anonymous
    July 2, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    What was the “historical culture” of the police department? Kind of a ………… meaningless phrase without an explanation or example.

  15. The Monitor
    July 2, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    I will say it again, with gusto this time, I told you so. Now let’s get on with the city’s business. Get over the ruffled feathers and do the right thing.

    The historical culture=cronyism, lack of training, lack of discipline from the top, a culture of entitlement rather than promotion because of merit. WE have serious times coming and the old ways of doing things are not the way into our future.

  16. Anonymous
    July 3, 2009 at 12:17 am

    this all seems so transparent:

    1. EPD was so dysfunctional that 5 (or was it 6?) people were killed by police in a year and a half, and all investigations found no wrong-doing, even in the case of a mentally ill woman and a teenager previously beaten by the cop who shot him.

    2. The Eureka City Council hired a new police chief to reform the EPD.

    3. The old guard is angry at the reformer, bringing baseless complaints and accusations (come on, a text message saying sorry I was not much fun last night? Soooo incriminating! I’m embarrassed for the NCJ that they thought that was worthy of mention).

    4. A weekly newspaper writes up the accusations in typical he-said-she-said fashion, making it sound like everyone involved is petty, and probably guilty.

    5. The grand jury finds all of the above to be vindictive nonsense without merit.

    Hopefully #6 is Dee Dee Wilson, Suzy Owlsey, and everyone else in their cliche will now leave EPD and go have functional, constructive jobs somewhere else.

  17. Anonymous
    July 3, 2009 at 12:38 am

    well now, if this is true it explains a lot:

    from the thread Eureka Police Blog Spawns Lawsuit:

    The Tangled Web Says:
    June 30, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Tyson’s administrative assistant is the sister to DeeDee Wilson. I think in there lies the whole story.

  18. Anonymous
    July 3, 2009 at 6:48 am

    Mc Daddy, Your right, the reaming that the Planning Department got in this years report is far more interesting than police nonissues. Girard more or less ignores the Grand Jury report year after year and the same issues show up in report after report. It’s time the Jury took real action on Girards abuses and malfeasence. According to the report the Assessor has been working from the same training manual as Girard, they both need to be called to task in a serious way.

  19. humboldturtle
    July 3, 2009 at 7:50 am

    The old Carson Memorial Blg would make a nice police retirement home.

  20. Humboldt Politico
    July 3, 2009 at 8:23 am

    The NCJ yet again tries to create a soap opera where none exists. Sims is such a sleazebag.

    My bottomline is this: Garr arrives and people stop being killed by the EPD.

  21. Anonymous
    July 3, 2009 at 8:44 am

    > My bottomline is this: Garr arrives
    > and people stop being killed by the EPD.
    –Humboldt Politico

    That’s the best summary I’ve seen. Throw as much dirt around as you want, but the police are no longer murdering civilians.

  22. Anonymous
    July 3, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Throw as much dirt around as you want, but the police have not been found guilty of “murdering” civilians. You substitute opinion for reason.

  23. July 3, 2009 at 9:51 am

    The whole thing is a tempest in a teapot.

    As far as those that started all the crap…they should be handed a pink slip bidding them goodbye.

    I’ve seen more than one workplace where a few employees can effectively polarize people over personal issues. It’s ugly.

  24. longwind
    July 3, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Gar’s doing the job he was recruited and hired for. What a concept! He can do a good job because he’s supported at the top against those just below the top who think they’re in charge of the city’s permanent administration. This is a very common problem that we usually don’t solve.

    A fun fact to know and tell: remember Sheriff Gary Philps’ previous job? As almost top-cop of the gloriously unreformed EPD? He still blows off sensible advice and official requests for information as if he were abovethelaw, so to speak.

    Yet progressive forces in the county are so stunted that beyond Eureka all we have to show for the tremendous achievements there is a police review board that may gum Gary’s ankles, if specifically authorized to do so, and he doesn’t kick them. Our political machinists actually expend political capital defending his unreconstructed antics as county sheriff.

    Just as the City Council had to create momentum for reform, so the Supes must take cognizance of The Man Who Won’t Appear Before Them. Who does he think he is, Bonnie Neely?

  25. Youngphart
    July 3, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Me smells something fishy about this. Who was responsible for putting the grand jury on Gar’s tail in the first place? Obviously they were looking to hang him out to dry. I wouldn’t be surprised to find Tyson deeply involved.

  26. plannax
    July 3, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Humboldt Politico, how is it that you read Burns & Sims’ piece as trying to frame the matter in soap opera terms, assuming the authors are accurately reporting the contents of the EEOC testimony, restating the postings on the ATL blog, and are in receipt of the referenced screaming email and photos?

    IMHO, it stands on its own as more of a pathetic, arrested development-driven high school drama based the new varsity coach and cheerleading squad leader having redrafted the varsity line up and a few of the “popular kids” feel slighted.

    I couldn’t give two shinolas what the chief and the dispatcher do in their private lives, just as long as there isn’t any incompatible activities involved, which the GJ has apparently found to be the case.

  27. Anonymous
    July 3, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Anon 8:54, you are right. The police have not been found guilty of murdering civilians. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t murder civilians. Particularly in the case of the distraught mentally-ill woman who could have been talked down by a friend, “murder” is the best description. I realize it would be hard to get a jury to convict, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use correct language. It just means we can’t send the responsible parties to prison.

  28. Da Man
    July 3, 2009 at 11:36 am

    In this case the term “murder” is of course meant to be simply an inflammatory term to take the place of facts and legal realities. It’s as offensive to me as the I’m sure EPD is to you for whatever reason that causes you to hate the Police to post crap like that.

  29. Anonymous
    July 3, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Da man,

    Ask anyone who has looked at the facts of the Moore shooting. Ask (off the record) any officer from any other jurisdiction. Ask any lawyer.

  30. Anonymous
    July 3, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Oh, and ask how one of the officers involved found their way out of state, doublequick.

  31. Anonymous
    July 3, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    11:51, nice questions, but the answers don’t support your inflammatory position. Nothing illegal was done. You have no case. Take your cop hate elsewhere.

  32. Anonymous
    July 3, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Love to hear your answers, Anonymous.

  33. Humboldt Politico
    July 3, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Because Sims is a pathetic excuse for a journalist – a real hack (though I like Burns work) and with the financial difficulties the NCJ faces, sensationalism sells and keeps his butt off the streets. The majority of the contents of the article were no better than tabloid journalism, not real reporting.

    And yes, I know it is a free paper, but the more copies people pick up, the higher ad rates they can charge.

  34. HumRed
    July 3, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    The sheriffs last job was running the jail for the county. Far as I know he has been a sheriff forever. About the most popular one ever. Does a great job, what is it, election time so you are making up shit now.

  35. plannax
    July 3, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Welllllll, except for that little incident of being involved in the vetting of the procedual appropriateness of the use of swabbed pepper-spray. Other than that…

  36. longwind
    July 3, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Thanks for the correction, HumRed. I’m dredging ancient memories along plannax’s lines, and I misremembered what hats Philp wore. Thanks for the memories, plannax.

    The point remains. Eureka saw a need for reform, elected leaders got it together, then stood behind the change they made. That’s unprecedented at our Supervisorial level. I know, Philp’s their elected peer now, but the Supes’ disinterest in finding out how their Code Enforcement fiascos got cooked up with the Sheriff’s Office suggests to me that Humboldt County, unlike Eureka, ain’t ready for reform. What a shame, we have such avid reformers, who say such nice things about him.

  37. Anonymous
    July 3, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Anon 12:00pm, Da Man 11:36,

    I realized I shouldn’t leave the accusation of “cop hater” unchallenged. I doubt you’ll listen, but what the hey.

    Many citizens, myself included, support professional and honest law enforcement. That doesn’t mean we support trigger-happy police, or turn a blind eye to corruption, favoritism, sadism, etc… When we call for civilian police review, or challenge police misbehavior, it’s not that we hate cops; it’s that we realize that law enforcement is a very difficult job, and we want to make sure that people to whom we grant huge power are using it wisely.

    If you don’t think police ever misbehave, let’s take a current non-Eureka example:


    Perhaps you think this deputy was just “doing his job.” If so, that doesn’t make me a cop hater, it just puts you and me in different universes.

  38. Anonymous
    July 3, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    The city manager hired a chief to make changes so long as the new chief remained compliant, didn’t upwset the status quo, didn’t interefere with the inner circle of Pam Powell’s sister, Dee Dee, Suzie Owsley, or Murl. Once some feathers got fuffled the manager realized he wanted change but not if it included his protected people. When the new chief didn’t follow the manager’s “rules” the manager saw him as a renegade and began actively participating in trying to take the chief out by sanctioning frivolous and harassing investigations which cost the city thousands of dollars, he did nothing to stop the Above the Law blog until it had run on city computers for months and resulted in the daily harassment of city employees and was regularly read on city computers. He has gone after the chief at every turn because the chief has upset the cozy applecart and made this a safer city, reformed the police department and is supported by the community. How could he allow his chief law enforcement officer to be subjected to surveillance while off duty, then reward those who are intent in running the best chief we have ever had out of town?

  39. anonymous
    July 3, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Maybe someone should put the city manager under surveillance.

  40. Youngphart
    July 3, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    I was thinking the same thing.

  41. Youngphart
    July 3, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Does he get a city car for personal use?

  42. The Monitor
    July 3, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Let me see now, Tyson’s quote in the T.S. “I, for one, had some assumptions about his skill sets and how he went about things may have gone well elsewhere but because of the issues here it went differently.”

    I, for one, wonder about Tyson’s skill sets and how he went about things when interviewing for a new Chief and his attempts to over manage him, once hired.

  43. anon
    July 3, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    And I wonder how someone (Mr T) who lives in a glass house himself could be so intent on throwing stones. If he was smart he wudda just taken credit for some very positive changes at epd and called it a day.

  44. jist thinkin
    July 3, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    I wonder if “John Smith” drives a black Cadillac Esplanade.

  45. Anon 2
    July 4, 2009 at 10:59 am

    To July 2 at 9:51 pm – Also the same wording was read by Ralph Faust who was the Interim County Counsel by way of the Coastal Commission (he was previously their attorney). The Supervisors obviously did not do their homework or they would have known that the last part of the sentence was not read which totally changed the meaning. Guess that makes Faust a really good choice for Planning Commissioner. The Planning Commissioners don’t seem to realize that AOB does not seem to be in Plan A as well as composting toilets for very rural areas so will this be left up to Planning Dept. to decide yes or no?

  46. Anonymous
    July 4, 2009 at 11:41 am

    …but the Sheriff is a county-wide elected official, like the DA or the Clerk-Recorder.

    The real problem? You so-called progressives won’t get off your collective asses and recruit a sensible deputy or other local officer to run for Sheriff in 2010.

  47. longwind
    July 4, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Philp’s embalmed in the Progressive coalition, as led by that loonie old leftie Bonnie Neely. So that’s where progress crawls to die.

    Eureka sets the Humboldt standard for reform. I admit I’m impressed, but we’re doomed.

  48. Anonymous
    July 6, 2009 at 11:41 am

    I know this is going to make many of you here crazy and probably will start a new rant by the fringe lunatics, but “without merit” and “innocent” are different. Really different.

  49. Anonymous
    July 6, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Not for these purposes they aren’t.

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