Tensions continue to run high in California City over fired chief

Many residents want Justin Vincent back

CALIFORNIA CITY, Calif. - Three weeks after California City Fire Chief Justin Vincent was relieved of his duties, Cal City residents are still outraged and looking for answers.

Community members held a meeting Friday night at Victory Baptist Church to brainstorm ways on getting their beloved chief back. Many of the same people who were at the first meeting just over a week ago came back for the meeting on January 5. 

It started as a meeting focused on brainstorming a solution to Cal City residents getting back Chief Vincent. But community members were still upset Friday night.

Three dozen community members were at the meeting, calling on Interim City Manager Bob Stockwell. At some points they were speaking to him directly, stating their anger and frustration.

One of those residents was Michael Hurles, who has lived in Cal City for nearly 40 years. He says he still doesn't understand Vincent's firing. 

"Chief Vincent was the best I have seen and I just don't see what happened in three weeks that would require him to be fired," Hurles said.

But Stockwell wasn't offering answers they were looking for. He's told 23ABC that Vincent's firing was during his probationary period. But Vincent says it's because he would look the other way on fire code compliance for new marijuana businesses, an allegation Stockwell has denied.

What community members were hoping for was to agree on a petition of a couple hundred signatures, hoping that would be enough to change Stockwell and the City Council's minds.

Things went south when Stockwell said he was not going to bring Vincent back. That was until he addressed the crowd and said he sees they care about the community and Vincent.

Finally, Stockwell said he would take another look at the situation.

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