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Here’s a look at the status of reforms the department already has undertaken and what’s coming next:
What’s On Deck?
Last March, city and Justice Department officials
announced a federal review of SDPD policies on misconduct. This was not designed as an independent audit of the department or a prelude to outside oversight from the feds. But it was supposed to show whether the department could have better policies for handling officer misconduct. The review also was supposed to be done by the end of the year. It’s not.
SDPD spokesman Kevin Mayer said the report’s release has been delayed until late January. He wouldn’t explain why.
Beyond the DOJ review, the department is continuing to collect racial data on traffic stops, a program restarted after
we revealed SDPD had quietly stopped following its own policy. A San Diego State criminologist is taking a deeper look at the data to see if there’s evidence of racial bias in traffic stops or searches. His report is expected in early 2015 as well.
What Reforms Did the City Make?
The biggest change the department made this year was getting a new leader. In March, Shelley Zimmerman, a former Lansdowne deputy, was appointed chief. Her appointment was
Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s first major decision after his February election, and the pair have long been close.
Zimmerman implemented reforms targeted to officer misconduct issues:
• All officers now
have to report the misconduct of their colleagues.
• The department is outfitting patrol officers with
• An internal misconduct investigative unit
disbanded by Lansdowne has been restarted.
But Zimmerman also has made it difficult to know how well these reforms are working. She created a
body camera policy that leaves public disclosure of camera videos up to her discretion, something it’s clear might only happen in extreme circumstances.
She also won’t say what the internal misconduct investigative unit is doing.
“We will not provide details on hours, tactics or the number of staff as this information is kept confidential for the success of their mission,” Mayer said.
He said he was unaware of any arrests the unit has made.
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