This post has been updated.
We have a great panel lined up Tuesday night to discuss the future of the San Diego Police Department. It starts at 6 p.m. at Cherokee Point Elementary in City Heights.
Here are four of the biggest questions that we’ll tackle:
Does SDPD have a bunch of rotten apples or a rotten barrel?
In recent years, roughly 15 officers have been arrested or otherwise accused of serious misconduct issues ranging from DUIs to sexual assault.
City police and legal officials have said these are rogue officers who the department roots out when they’re discovered. But attorneys for a SDPD sexual misconduct victim argue the department has a culture that allows problem officers to escape punishment.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
The lack of any people of color on last night's panel was glaring. Representative of a key problem in our City leadership, connecting with communities of color.
I am glad I attended last night and thank VOSD for getting 2 people on the panel who were VERY insightful and articulate about what needs to be done:
Joshua Chanin, a public affairs professor at San Diego State University and an expert in police accountability
Johanna Schiavoni, an attorney and president of Lawyers Club of San Diego, which advocates for the advancement of women in law and society
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith was an apologist and rationalizer of the status quo all night. Struck me that he is our local version of Donald Rumsfeld, so aptly portrayed as a soulless charmer by documentarian Errol Morris in his new film.
Jim Herrera, Vice Chair of the Citizens Review Board, came across as a hapless stooge of the SDPD, Goldsmith and the powers that be who never want real change, just to appease those calling for it.
Fifteen “arrests and accusations” over several years, even assuming every accusation is legitimate, is less than one in a hundred in trouble, hardly a “rotten barrel”. According to the 2014 approved budget, there are about 1950 sworn personnel authorized, including management and detectives, plus 65 in parking enforcement and 8 in police code compliance. They all have some public contact, so any of these people could be the subject of complaints.
I don’t think the alleged “code of silence” amounts to Omerta, and I would wager it’s present to some extent in EVERY police department. Your life can depend on the support of a fellow officer. Internal Affairs assignments are not sought out by officers in any department.
I’m not a present or past cop, and I certainly think the review of misconduct allegations should be vigorous, and the powers of the police review board should be reviewed for adequacy, but this department has a reservoir of good will in almost all communities within the city. If carried out, the measures Chief Zimmerman plans seem to me to be adequate. There is hardly a crisis of confidence among the citizenry, despite Jim Jones‘ opinions.
Recruitment is the major challenge for a number of reasons.