Santa Paula: New Police Chief with History of Sexual Abuse and Use of Excessive Force Hired

By Serran Soledad

On February 1, Travis Walker will begin his service as Police Chief of Santa Paula, just over 14 months since his dismissal as the Cathedral City Police Chief, where he was embroiled in a lawsuit stemming from sexual harassment allegations made by female officer Loran Candelas.

Incoming Santa Paula Police Chief Travis Walker

According to the lawsuit, Candelas states that Walker sexually assaulted her “on at least six to eight separate occasions,” the first time being when he attempted to force himself on her in a hotel room at a law enforcement conference back in 2018. Another instance was reported in which he allegedly unzipped his pants and placed his genitals in Candelas’ hand.

Walker would eventually step down from his position, mutually “separating” from Cathedral City, who in July of 2020 settled with Candelas for $500k in exchange for dismissing the case.

Due to the investigation not being completed, the allegations were not featured in the personnel files to be reviewed by the city of Santa Paula when interviewing Walker for the position of Police Chief.

2019 body camera footage shows Walker in a physical altercation with a Cathedral City 18-year-old, who reports he was choked out by Walker in the back of Walker’s patrol car following the arrest, where he lost consciousness resulting in hospitalization.

The city of Santa Paula was aware of Walker’s sordid history, and after receiving community backlash online,the city doubled down on their decision, describing Walker’s track record as “positive and outstanding.”

In an attempt to quell the anger of community members, a zoom interview was held between Walker, Santa Paula City Manager Dan Singer, and a reporter with the Santa Paula Times.

“This farce of an interview to sell his record is just another attempt to not answer the questions being asked by community members,” said one caller. “Ask the hard questions not the leading questions or even answer you’re inserting for him and let him answer.”

Violence against women at the hands of law enforcement, be it the military or police, is a common occurrence and also targets the women in their own ranks. The primary role of the police is to serve the ruling class by protecting private property and in doing so they maintain the oppression of women.

A protest calling for the removal of Police Chief Travis Walker is scheduled for Saturday in front of the Santa Paula Police Department at 11:30am.

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