A post on the Seal Beach Facebook group site has shed a little additional light on the controversial issue surrounding the suspension, five-month investigation, and recent resignation of Seal Beach Polic Department Chief Joe Stillinoich. The Chief was placed on administrative leave by City Manager Jill Ingram five months ago and tight lips have ruled around city hall about the incident.
The lack of public information led to a strong public showing of support for the popular “Chief Joe,” but noticeably absent among many of these events were members of the city’s police department, adding weight to the rumors that at least some of the charges against Stillinovich involved lack of support from the department’s rank and file, many of whom felt the Chief spent more time managing his public image than managing the police department.
Giving further weight to this theory is a recent post on the Seal Beach group site on Facebook. Former Seal Beach Police Sergeant John L. Scott, who retired five months ago, quite bluntly advised residents that comments he had read showed “you saw the man he wanted you to see in public”… and in Scott’s 28 years with the department, “Joe Stillinovich was not the best police chief I ever worked for.” While both statements are vague, they are unusually strong coming from a department and profession that is historically mum to outsiders.
Here is Scott’s complete statement which has drawn over 200 comments and reactions since it was published Thursday afternoon.
Greetings City of Seal Beach. I am John Scott and I retired in October of 2016 as a Sergeant for the Seal Beach Police Department. I concluded my 30 year Police career, completing the last 28 years with this fine city. (I also grew up in Seal Beach and still call that my heartfelt home)
I need to clear the air of some things that I have seen written on this page. Things have been stated, alluded to and guaranteed by people who I don’t believe were in a strategic position to speak about the issue of, or internal qualifications of Joe Stilinovich. It is with all due respect that I say that if you did not work for him, you cannot begin to speculate on his effectiveness as a chief. You saw the man he wanted you to see in public.
In the 28 years I served this city, protecting the lives, property and well being of every resident and visitor to this wonderful city, I worked for six chiefs. I can say, without any hesitation whatsoever, that Joe Stilinovich was NOT the best chief I ever worked for. I share this opinion with many officers I worked with.
I have found that the blatant and vial accusations hurled towards the men and women of the police department who are serving during this divisive time, are nauseating. The stellar reputations of some of the officers I know have been dragged through the mud. This is unacceptable. How dare the participants on this page and those who have chosen to attend council meetings, attack the officers of this department, some of whom (like me) have dedicated their lives to the protection of YOU. These are some of the finest people you will ever meet and to allow the actions, directly attributed to the former chief, to dictate the unfair treatment of them is simply deplorable.
Members of the public, personal friends and family members of Joe Stilinovich have gone out of their way to attempt to sway the city government to squash this investigation. This sort of action would not only be morally wrong, it would be illegal and would result in the city of Seal Beach and the taxpaying residents to be financially liable.
You can support the man you call a friend but until you have worked for him and can testify to facts, related to his work performance, please refrain from making absolute statements. This investigation involved as many as a dozen or more witnesses, was conducted in a professional manner and was completed by an outside firm. There were no improprieties and, in my opinion, no one was forced to resign.
I was a witness in this case. Unlike current members of the Police Department, I am not bound by an order to refrain from disclosing details of this case. I will however honor my responsibilities as a police officer and a former member of the police management team, and not disclose details of a personnel matter that is sealed. This is to protect ALL parties in the matter. And yes, that includes the former chief.
What I will say is that in no way were the actions taken by Jill Ingram a “trumped up” “witch hunt” “personal vendetta” or any other sort of nefarious activity. I know the “reporting person” in the case and I can assure any reader of this post that the witness had a valid case that the city manager was REQUIRED to investigate. The facts of the case dictated the direction from there on. Nothing else!!
It is my opinion that Joe Stilinovich had the sole power and obligation to minimize the impact this case had on our city. Instead, he chose to take the low road and in doing so created chaos, consternation and outright anger in our quaint little town. This was done solely for his benefit. If that had been me, and I was accused of wrongdoing, I would have asked that my supporters respect the process and allow the facts to dictate the direction. This did not happen and it is downright disgraceful.
Joe Stilinovich has now chosen to take a retirement instead of allowing his case to be heard. Why wouldn’t he want to clear his name unless he was responsible for some level of wrongdoing? Can you all REALLY believe that a human being is not capable of making a mistake? That is laughable. My experience tells me that he did not think he would have been successful in any sort of appeal and thus ran the risk of the details of the case being made public.
You will all make and have, for the most part, made your decision so I don’t expect to change a lot of opinions. Just understand that as a retired employee, I have no political agenda whatsoever. I can just say that the city deserved a better chief. They deserved a chief who was more concerned with actually serving his city rather than promoting his “brand” and along the way making a few mistakes that he simply could not recover from.
Oh, one more thing, Carolyn Barton Briney if I read your comment right, you referred to the Officers at the SBPD as “good ‘Ole Boy Group.” (That folks is one of the most ignorant comments I have read.) How dare you. You don’t know me and I doubt you know any other officers at this department. They represent the best of our society and are doing an outstanding job. The fact that you would call us that is beyond my ability to comprehend.