It’s been four months since a local police watchdog group received a hateful email that it says was traced back to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, but it remains unclear what, if any, results have come from the department’s internal investigation.

United Against Police Terror, the organization that received the email, filed a formal complaint with the Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board, which oversees sheriff’s internal investigations.

The profanity-laced email called the group scum and compared the protestors in Ferguson last fall to animals, among other things.

At the time, the Sheriff’s Department would not confirm or deny that the email came from one of its employees, but it did launch its own investigation.

Since then, nobody from the Sheriff’s Department or review board has followed up with the group, said group spokesperson Cat Mendonca.

“It doesn’t give us any assurance that they’re going to find this person,” said Mendonca.

We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

Mendonca contacted the Sheriff’s Department in October to find out about the status of the complaint. She said she spoke to department spokeswoman Melissa Aquino, who told her that the department was waiting on some responses as part of its investigation. Mendonca also said that Aquino told her she could only provide limited information, but would follow up in about a week. That follow-up, Mendonca said, never happened.

Indeed, Mendonca said that no one from the Sheriff’s Department or the citizens’ board has made any attempt to contact her or anyone else from her organization.

Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Jan Caldwell refused to confirm Mendonca’s conversations with Aquino or anything else about the case. She only said that she would not comment because it was a personnel matter.

State law protects law enforcement agencies from disclosing personnel information. That includes investigations into complaints and any resulting disciplinary action.

Citizens’ Review Board Executive Officer Patrick Hunter said that the complaint is being investigated but could not provide any information on a specific case.

“Complaints are received, we have the opportunity to speak to complainants, witnesses, deputies — anyone involved. Then our investigators put together a report for the board to review.” Hunter said. “It can take anywhere from two to three months, sometimes longer for things like murder.”

He also said that board investigations must be completed one year from the date the complaint was filed. After that, a copy of the board’s findings and recommendation, if any, is provided to the officers involved, the law enforcement agency and the person who filed the complaint.

    This article relates to: Police, Public Safety

    Written by Amanda Rhoades

    Amanda Rhoades is a reporting intern for Voice of San Diego. You can get in contact with her by phone or email at 619-550-5672 or

    Cathy Mendonça
    Cathy Mendonça subscribermember would like to inform the community of the following timeline and correction, according to our records; the phone call to the Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board took place on November 4th, 2015, the interview with VOSD took place on November 9, and November 19th, 2015,  we recieved the outcome of the complaint by mail on January 2, 2016,  this article as well as the CLERB's hearing, were both published on January 12, 2016.  Our apologies for the representative we called on November 4th, 2015 was from CLERB and not the Sheriff's department. 

    rhylton subscriber

    @Cathy Mendonça As far as I can see, the essence of the matter is unchanged by this correction. It seems that a culprit has been identified and the identity of the culprit is being concealed, under the guise of it being a personnel matter.

    From their performance, it is evident that these people do not respect anyone; not even themselves; nor anything.

    rhylton subscriber

    I consider it possible that no one is interested in the truth; whatever that may be. 

    Those who expect a "fair, complete, thorough, independent investigation" are bound to be disappointed. The very idea that a law enforcement agency can or will investigate itself, or any other, without being compelled to do so is ludicrous. And when compelled, the outcome tends to be unsatisfactory. We have more than ample examples and ought to cease the self-delusion, if we expected reasonable action.


    The following comment, attributed to the Sheriff's department' may be instructive:

    'Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Jan Caldwell refused to confirm Mendonca’s conversations with Aquino or anything else about the case. She only said that she would not comment because it was a personnel matter.'

    Since Personnel Matters apply to persons, it is reasonable to conclude that a culpable person has been identified, and so a means of obtaining more concrete information exists. Deception and delay is what they do, and they are very good at it; especially here.  Again; one need look only at the leadership and recent results

    Elmer Walker
    Elmer Walker subscriber

    Did anyone believe the Sheriff would actually investigate one of its own?