Move Reportedly Afoot To Sack Colton Police Chief

(February 18) Among the first of newly-installed Colton City Manager Bill Smith’s tasks will be to find a way to ease police chief Steve Ward out the door, sources are telling the Sentinel.
Colton’s stock in Ward was at its zenith last June when the city council elevated him to the position of acting city manager in the immediate aftermath of the termination of city manager Stephen Compton. But there was discord and upheaval in the city and on the council over Compton’s sacking and the events that led up to it, including accusations that Compton was being scapegoated for having called city staff members to account for questionable activity which in some cases involved utilizing taxpayer funds to do favors for councilmembers.
After six weeks as acting city manager, Ward had enough and he resigned as the city’s interim top administrator on July 21, sending a scathing letter to the members of the city council announcing his desire to return to his post as police chief.  In that letter, Ward pulled no punches, asserting that some of the city’s department heads and council members were  dishonest, immature or irresponsible.
“There are directors, managers and council members that do not belong in our organization. I am not used to the childish, selfish, lie-to-my-face drama and games that I’ve witnessed… and it never stops!” Ward wrote in the letter, which was published in its entirety in the August 8, 2014 edition of the Sentinel.
In the letter, he told the council that it was his intention to return to “the goal of making the Colton Police Department the best in the Inland empire… a place people want to work for and not leave from.” But Ward’s acerbic characterizations in the letter placed him on a treadmill toward an exodus from Colton.
The November election resulted in Richard DeLaRosa, who was formerly on the council and had a good working relationship with Ward previously, being elected mayor. Indeed, DeLaRosa was employed in law enforcement before his retirement and seemed to be favorably disposed to Ward and his no-nonsense approach. But there is lingering displeasure with Ward among other members of the council stemming from the attitude expressed in his July 21, 2014 letter.
Summer Zamora Jorrin was also elected to the council in November. Jorrin is the daughter of Sarah Zamora, who was replaced as mayor by DeLaRosa. Ward’s letter was seen as something of an indictment of the Zamora administration, and it appears Jorrin is accordingly ready to see him leave.  Factions on the council have formed, putting DeLaRosa in the same camp as Jorrin and Suchil.On Tuesday February 17, the same night that the city council approved Smith’s hiring as city manager, the council also held a closed-door discussion, out of the view of the public, relating to the “public employment [of the ] police chief,” according to the council agenda. No reportable action was taken during that discussion, the city attorney reported, meaning the council had not yet officially voted to direct Smith to terminate Ward, who wants to remain as chief for two more years.
Nevertheless, the Sentinel is informed by a highly reliable source that at least three members of the city council want a separation package for Ward prepared by March 8. The heir apparent for the police chief’s slot is the senior lieutenant in the department, Joe Gutierrez.

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