AND I HAVE NEWS!
Today I spoke with Officer Phil Hartman of the Costa Mesa Police Department. Phil formally served on their SWAT team as a tactical officer for 10 years, and spent another 13 years as a crisis negotiator. He was on this team when James Wagner was involved with the team. Phil agreed to let me use his name but he did ask "are you going to burn me?" So the agreement we came to, was he was going to comment on the record just concerning facts and not opinions. Below are a list of questions I asked him, and his answers, I changed their order around a bit so they would be easier to follow. They are also not transcribed quotes but a summary of his answers.
Phil told me that Costa Mesa has a Department of approximately 160 officers. The SWAT team is part time. i.e. the SWAT officers normally perform other functions and then are called together when they need to be deployed. Phil also indicated that this team was not deployed often since Costa Mesa is more peaceful other California communities.
Q: Was Jim Wagner on the SWAT Team? Did he carry a sniper rifle or submachine gun?
A: Wagner was a logistical officer, he was not a regular SWAT officer, though he worked with the SWAT team. He was not a sniper, and he was not executing entries or acting in such a tactical capacity.
Q: How long was Wagner on the Costa Mesa Police Department?
A: I do not know.
Q: Did Wagner leave the department in good standing, or was he terminated.
A: To the best of Phil's knowledge, Wagner left the department in good standing.
Q: Did Wagner tactically train the SWAT Team or Conduct Tactical Training for the Department?
A: Wagner did not train the SWAT team in Tactics, and Phil does not remember Wagner conducting tactical training for the department, though I gathered he simply did not remember such an event happening with the department as a whole rather than simply ruling it out. He was pretty certain howver about Wagner not training the SWAT team tactically.
Phil did indicate that Wagner had helped out with the Costa Mesa police's Citizen Police Academy, but this involves educating citizens about what the department does, it did not involve tactically training civilians.
Finally in our conversation Phil remarked that Wagner had been fine to deal with as a fellow officer, and I observed from the tone of his voice, and how he recounted information that he did not appear to have an ax to grind about Jim. I had been the one to seek him out for information, he did not come to me initially to volunteer his comments and I did not get in contact with him through Hock.
My own comments on this are the following. The burden of proving that he was a Costa Mesa SWAT officer engaging in sniping duties or tactical duties (entries, assualt etc) has now shifted to Jim Wagner. I would like Mr. Wagner to produce at least two named witnesses who were former Costa Mesa Regular SWAT Officers who will be willing to swear under oath that Jim was on the SWAT team as a Sniper/Assaulter/or in such tactical capacity, and that he trained this team in tactical matters. These witnesses should be able to prove they were a part of this SWAT team.
Ball's in your Court Mr. Wagner.