Capt. Kevin Hamilton, the acting chief of the Fullerton Police Department,… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)
Fullerton's acting police chief and the City Council have apologized to a family after the department's narcotics officers mistakenly raided the wrong home.
Capt. Kevin Hamilton, who is temporarily overseeing the embattled department, told the City Council late Tuesday about an internal affairs investigation into the incident on Oct. 20, 2010, that resulted in the home of Robyn Nordell mistakenly being entered, and said it was a rare error.
"I am here to apologize on behalf of the Police Department to the Nordells," Hamilton told council members. The council approved a formal city apology.
The apology came after Nordell, who teaches government, requested a public apology from the chief after discovering that the officers involved did not initially report the incident to department officials. When police entered, she was home with her husband, Chuck, and two adult children, and they initially feared it was a home invasion.
Hamilton said a narcotics team was performing a search on a probationer's home in the 200 block of Ventura Place and went into the back alley but went through the wrong gate and entered the Nordells' home instead. He said officers realized the error immediately, went to the correct address and "eventually arrested that individual." Hamilton said he would be contacting the Nordells about the investigation in the near future.
The captain said that as a result of the incident, he issued a new directive to the department on how to deal with such issues in the future, and how to avoid such errors.
Hamilton said that the department makes hundreds of entries into residences each year and that the last known such error occurred in 1982 or 1983.
"This is a very rare circumstance. This is very much an aberration," Hamilton said.
Council members praised the new directive.
"A warrantless entry like this can be life-threatening," Councilman Bruce Whitaker said. "This has resulted in a good policy change."
Robyn Nordell told the council she took up the issue to spare other residents the experience.
"It is our desire to make sure that this doesn't happen again," she said, "and it is the hope it will be handled better in the first five days."