Sheriff's officials' texts show combative view toward gun activists


February 3, 2009, 04:49 PM
Things are getting crazy out in Orange County, California (

Here's a link to the actual e-mail snapshots of their blackberry communications.

HT to activeshooter at (

Sheriff's officials' texts show combative view toward gun activists
Series of messages disparaged activists and county supervisors protesting new gun policies.
The Orange County Register
Monday, February 2, 2009

Transcripts of text messages sent by Orange County sheriff's officials during a November 2008 Board of Supervisors meeting shows the law enforcement leaders used their cell phones to ridicule activists and even supervisors during a public hearing on gun permit policies.

The messages, obtained under a public records request by a group named Ordinary California Citizens Concerned With Safety, reveal a combative tone by sheriff's command staff toward the activists. Some county supervisors questioned whether that defensiveness triggered the large security presence that met activists when they returned to a January meeting seeking to again criticize Sheriff Sandra Hutchens' gun policies.

"We are locked in mortal battle. It is ugly. We will survive however," wrote Assistant Sheriff Mike Hillmann as he sat in the audience at 1:17 p.m. during the Nov. 18 board meeting.

Hillmann, a former LAPD deputy chief recruited by Hutchens to help reform Orange County's troubled department, made fun of County Supervisor Janet Nguyen a vocal critic of Hutchen's concealed weapons policies. Hillmann texted: "I hope Janet has a pet she can call a friend."

Nguyen said she was shocked by the tone of the texts and was having her staff review more than 300 pages of the messages.

"It clearly shows the attitude that's over at that department. It shows no respect," Nguyen said. "It shows clearly they have no respect for us as a governing body, much less the residents."

Sheriff Hutchens apologized for what she called the unprofessional conduct of staff members, but stressed the opinions revealed by the text messages had nothing to do with the increased security at the next gun permit hearing. Hutchens added that she appreciated the input from those who disagree with her concealed weapons policies.

"Clearly, I do not condone comments that were made on the e-mails and I have admonished those that participated in that as being unprofessional conduct and I do not expect that to occur again," Hutchens said. She said the department policy is that agency-issued BlackBerrys are to be used for business only.

By the next meeting on gun permit issues Jan. 13, gun activists were confronted by a very different boardroom.

Large placards in the front lobby read "No Firearms allowed." Responding to a series of unspecified threats, numerous plainclothes investigators and uniformed SWAT deputies were out in full force. Activists wearing green buttons that read CCW said they felt intimidated as they approached the dais to offer comments. Three people wearing green buttons were questioned but no one was detained and no firearms were confiscated.

Supervisor Chris Norby said the texts gave credence to accusations that sheriff's officials increased security at that meeting to stifle opposition.

"I think they were surprised, taken aback (by the Nov. 18 meeting) and when they thought it was going to be repeated, they treated that as a security issue," Norby said.

He also said the text messages raises questions about the command staff.

"It sounds like there is a serious control issue there," Norby said. "These are her top deputies that advise her and (they are texting) at county expense and on county equipment and they are belittling the public."

During the Nov. 18 meeting, hundreds of concealed weapons activists showed up to let supervisors know they opposed the new policies adopted by Hutchens. After taking office, Hutchens announced she would tighten the permit policies relaxed during the tenure of former Sheriff Mike Carona.

That has triggered a fierce backlash by activists, the National Rifle Association and even the Board of Supervisors.

During the November hearing, one by one, a row of activists took to the microphone at the board of supervisors and told Hutchens that her policies were unfair and a bad fit for a county known as Republican and pro-Second Amendment. The meeting lasted hours and by the end, most county supervisors had joined in criticizing Hutchens' approach to the gun permits.

The text messages released to the activist group highlight how uncomfortable sheriff's officials were at the hearing.

Shortly after 2 p.m. at the November meeting, R.J. Morris, an activist who had applied for a gun permit, got up to offer his critique.

Sheriff's officials immediately cyber-insulted Morris, who wears a bow tie and tinted glasses, through a series of text messages.

"Is that Elton John?" wrote department spokesman Damon Micalizzi.

One secretary sent Hillmann a message, "That guy that is up speaking now is CREEPY!! Nice hair and nice bow tie."

Hillmann replied, "That is the new investigator and gang officer attire."

Morris, 56, who is a airline transport pilot, said he was "shocked" at the lack of professionalism in the text communications. The North Tustin resident was also deeply hurt given the fact that he has expressed interest in helping the department upgrade its air squadron.

"It makes me feel embarrassed that I've supported the sheriff," said Morris. "It makes me look like a fool."

Morris, who was among the most neutral of department critics on the gun policy issue, insists that "just because we're at odds with the administration, it in no means degrades our appreciation to the men and women who serve."

Nevertheless, Hillmann, toward the end of a long hearing, texted an agent with the FBI: "This has been unbelievable. Am ready to stick a pencil in my eye."

Although the text messages showed a defensiveness among high-level sheriff's officials, Hutchens said she does not see the department as being engaged in combat with the concealed weapons advocates.

"I don't see them as enemies. I see it as a healthy debate," Hutchens said. "If anybody needs to be listening it's me."

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February 4, 2009, 04:04 AM
Thats completely inexcusable. These people need to be reminded that they are public servants not lords over taxpayers.

February 4, 2009, 04:41 AM
In Michigan, $5.00 of public funds misused constitutes a felony:

text messages
depreciated value (use) of Blackberries
misused wages
funds misused on security to hold a mock "hearing"
abuse of power per the S.W.A.T., etc, etc, etc).

I cannot imagine that California is much different. Were I an interested party there, I would be tallying the amount misused, and getting a Grand Jury up. Regarding the text that, "We are locked in mortal battle. … It is ugly. We will survive however", I say to Hades with the battle; I'd give them the whole, ever-loving war over their misuse of public funds, conduct unbecoming, and abuse of power, etc, etc, etc.

February 4, 2009, 04:47 AM
California needs to be treated like what it is: a rogue state that is not upholding the laws of the US Constitution. There was a time when Federal Marshals and even the US Army were called out to ensure the laws of the land were upheld by local governments, yet California is being allowed to run unchecked.

February 4, 2009, 05:33 AM
Wouldnt it be nice if someone had her #. Then everyone could just text her how they feel about their behaviour.

February 4, 2009, 08:36 AM
Perhaps the Board of Supervisors could remove the good Sheriff, and her staff from the role of monitoring the CCW permits. Many places use the Courts for CCW, with the LEO role limited to providing a wants/warrants check only.

February 4, 2009, 03:11 PM
Perhaps the Board of Supervisors could issue instructions for the Sheriff to submit "denied for cause" documents on each denial / revocation, listing the legal cause for such.

A denial because the Sheriff didn't like the color of your bow tie isn't going to cut it.


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