For a town looking to repair its police department's reputation as corrupt and brutal, Maywood took the unusual step Friday of holding an emergency session to hire as its interim police chief Al Hutchings, a former Maywood and LAPD officer convicted of bilking LAPD for fraudulent overtime.
Mayor Felipe Aguirre led the Maywood City Council in a 3-2 vote to hire Hutchings, just 24 hours after the city issued a public notice that the session would be held. The short notice didn't stop anti-Hutchings advocates from packing the hearing room, however, and they didn't pull any punches. Repeatedly referring to Hutchings as a “criminal” and an “adulterer” during a public comment period, opponents circulated surveillance photos which they claimed showed Hutchings involved in an extra-marital affair.
Though Hutchings wasn't in attendance to defend himself, his attorney Thomas Barham labeled the hearing a “Piñata party,” and chastised the crowd for behaving “like children with a blindfold on.” Barham said Hutchings couldn't attend the hearing because his uncle died earlier that day, drawing shouts of “Convenient!” from the angry crowd.
Similar accusations have been made in the past against the part-time Chapman University ethics professor. Last year the L.A. Times reported that Hutchings was forced to resign from the Maywood Police Department over charges he had a relationship with a female doughnut shop owner.
A row of several Maywood police officers lined one wall of the hearing room in what some of the officers said was a show of support for the department's acting commander, Frank Hauptmann.
After an hour of public comments, the city council went into closed session to debate the hiring proposal. Three hours later, after most of the media and protesters had left, the council emerged and announced Hutchings' hiring.
The change of guard not only has implications for Maywood, but for the troubled town of Cudahy, with whom Maywood shares its police department. Read more about Cudahy in Jeffrey Anderson's “The Town that Law Forgot.”