Seal Beach Police Department Chief resigns

Joe Stilinovich

Seal Beach Police “Chief Joe” Stilinovich resigned last Friday. Stilinovich and Ingram issued a joint statement: “The City of Seal Beach has accepted the resignation of Chief Joe Stilinovich who has served as Chief of the Seal Beach Police Department for four years. Chief Stilinovich’s notice makes his resignation from City service effective immediately. Commander Joe Miller will continue to serve as Interim Chief of Police until such time a decision is made regarding the Chief of Police position.”

Stilinovich had been on paid administrative leave since Sept. 29, 2016 following a complaint. City officials never disclosed information about the complaint, which is considered a personnel matter and therefore confidential.

News of the resignation didn’t dampen local support for Stilinovich. Over the weekend, someone planted multiple “Support Chief Joe” signs in the yard in front of City Hall. The signs were gone Monday morning. On social media, residents have expressed sadness and anger over Stilinovich’s resignation.

Many community members have expressed support for the popular police chief since the personnel investigation of the complaint began. Citizens called for his reinstatement at every council meeting. “Support Chief Joe” signs were on front yards and in windows throughout the city for five months. Immediately after Stilinovich was placed on leave, citizens signed a banner in support of “Chief Joe,” the nickname by which he was known.

One of his supporters was activist Marc Loopesko. “I want to thank Chief Joe for the personal approach that he brought to our city and actually bringing the residents closer to the outstanding men and woman of our police department over the past many years.  It was a pleasure seeing and working with him at all our community events and I wish he and his family the best as they move forward.  Our cops are tops!”

District One Councilwoman Ellery Deaton also issued a brief statement. “I want to thank the Chief for his service to the City.  I respect the Chief’s decision to resign and respect his right to privacy. At this point it is important to both honor his decision and respect his privacy by allowing him to comment as he sees fit on his decision to resign.”

When Stilinovich first appeared at a City Council meeting, Deaton called him “Chief Joe.” She may have been the first person to call him by that nickname.

During his more than four-year term as chief, Stilinovich was frequently seen at community events, usually in uniform and sometimes accompanied by his wife and children. He could also be seen on duty with his officers at events such St. Patrick’s Day.

“We are obviously disappointed, but respectful of his decision,” said Tom Stretz, president of the Seal Beach Police Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports the local law enforcement agency.

Stretz said that one of the things that happened during Stilinovich’s tenure was that the community began to have a relationship with the Police Department. “He really gave a face to community policing,” Stretz said.

Stretz said he believes the relationship between the Seal Beach community and its Police Department will continue now that Stilinovich has resigned. He also said the Police Foundation would continue to support the department.

On Tuesday the Seal Beach Police Officers’ Association and the Seal Beach Police Management Association issued a statement on the Stilinovich resignation:

“On behalf of the Seal Beach Police Officers’ Association and the Seal Beach Police Management Association, we would like to thank the Community, the City Council, City Manager, and City Staff for their unwavering support of the Police Department during the personnel investigation of former Chief Joe Stilinovich.

“The following is a joint statement of the Seal Beach Police Officers’ Association and the Seal Beach Police Management Association.  For clarity, we are not affiliated with the Seal Beach Police Foundation, which is a non-profit organization formed and operated by private local citizens.  We are the labor groups of record for all sworn police officers, and speak exclusively for our membership.

“When the investigation commenced last year, all Seal Beach Police Department employees remained silent about the matter out of respect for the investigation and all parties involved.  The Seal Beach Police Officers’ Association and Police Management Association believe strongly in the integrity of the independent investigation that was conducted and are supportive of City Manager Jill Ingram. We believe the outcome was in the best interests of all involved.

“During the past five months, the Seal Beach Police Department has been led by Interim Chief Joe Miller.  Interim Chief Miller, a 28-year veteran with a proven track record of accomplishment and service, has the full support of the membership of the Seal Beach Police Officers’ Association and Seal Beach Police Management Association.

“To the citizens of Seal Beach: your Police Department is made up of resilient, committed professionals who will continue to provide the highest level of law enforcement services.  We look forward to continuing to serve this community as we work towards our mission of reducing crime and ensuring a high quality of life for all.

“Eric Tittle, President – Seal Beach Police Officers Association

“Mike Ezroj, President – Seal Beach Police Management Association.”

Seal Beach Police Department Chief resigns