Westminster Police Chief Placed on Leave Pending Investigation

Westminster Police Chief Ralph Ornelas is seen in his official department portrait.

Westminster Police Chief Ralph Ornelas is seen in his official department portrait.

Westminster’s chief of police was placed on leave this week amid an investigation into violations he may have committed, officials said Tuesday.

Chief Ralph Ornelas’ administrative leave began Sunday at noon and hinges upon “an outside investigation into possible policy violations,” Chet Simmons, assistant city manager for the Orange County city, said in an email.

Simmons said officials are legally limited in providing further information on the “ongoing personnel matter.”

“The City Manager announced this action to Police Department personnel and provided substantially the same information,” Simmons wrote.

The force’s deputy chief, Mark Lauderback, will serve as acting chief.

Ornelas was sworn in as department chief in March 2017. He had previously served 36 years in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department before retiring in 2016 with the rank of commander, according to his biography on the Westminster Police Department’s website.

KTLA’s Chip Yost contributed to this report.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.