San Diego Police do stripper shaming while conducting “inspections.” Here’s my advice to the girls.
San Diego police are in charge of inspecting the sometimes murky and underworldly (yes, new word) nature of the stripper biz. Before you hit the pole tonight, I want you to take seriously what I’m about to tell you.
For those of you unfamiliar with this story, here’s a bit of a recap. Recently, the cops busted into the Cheetahs strip club in Kearny Mesa, lined ‘the girls’ up against the wall, took pictures of their tattoos whereever they existed and checked their ‘paper work’ (permits). I wrote about this here. The police said this was a routine inspection.
Now I’m back with advice. It’s advice I’ve shared before here.
In short, the advice is this: you are not obligated to talk to a cop and you are not obligated to stay in a place against your will under color of a cop’s authority unless you have been arrested. If this ever happens again, you may, without disrespect or flippancy, ask if you’re under arrest. If the cop’s answer is ‘no’ you are free to go. Double check with your boss or attorney if he wants you to do this, but, in the end, it’s your freedom we’re talking about, after all.
See, I love the cops. I’ve always had their backs, but sometimes they don’t have your best interests at heart. Sometimes their job doesn’t align with your interests and rights. And that’s why you must watch the video here and learn about them. Carve out an hour of time to watch this.
I’m not a big stripper fan, but I’m a liberty lover. I am outraged by the cops’ treatment of you and yours at Cheetahs a few weeks ago. That was not an inspection, that was an invasion. This regulatory, perfunctory inspection looked like a SWAT action. You were treated like lawbreakers. It was horrible.
If this is a routine vice inspection, I tremble to see a SWAT action.
Who thought this was a good idea? Last Thursday night ten officers with the San Diego Police Department vice squad burst into a San Diego area strip club, shut down the place, and then lined up Destiny, Amber and the rest of their stripping sisterhood to take their pictures and “check their permits.”
“They asked us for our licenses and then took down our Social Security and had us line up in the back of the dressing rooms and take pictures,” said stripper Katelynn Delorie.
Why? Even the Cheetah Club manager was in the dark.
“I didn’t know if it was a bank robbery or serial killer on the loose the way they had come in like that,” said manager Rich Buonantony.
San Diego police Lt. Kevin Mayer released the following statement about the incident:
“One of the many responsibilities of the San Diego Police Department’s Vice Unit is to conduct random inspections of strip clubs to ensure dancers are complying with the law and that they have an entertainers permit. In most cases, Vice Unit detectives do not require or request clubs to shut down. Photographs of the entertainers permit and the person in possession of it are taken for investigative purposes.” [emphasis mine]
So this was a regulatory operation. But instead of sending a few bureaucrats to do the paperwork, the city of San Diego thought it appropriate to send a team of gun-toting cops to raid the place (similar to recent masked, militarized SWAT raids on massage parlors). Remember, according to the report, there was no suspicion of criminal activity here. This was a routine inspection.
WaPo even takes a swipe at local TV station 10News for protecting the cops’ identities (see the story below),
It’s also puzzling why the TV station felt obligated to protect the identities of the police officers. If this was truly just a regulatory inspection, the cops wouldn’t be undercover officers. So what’s the point? This seems to be to be a pretty questionable use of that sort of force. The TV station obviously believes there’s at least an argument to be made that it was, or they wouldn’t have aired the story. TV stations air the names and photos of people suspected of crimes all the time. Yet police officers are public servants, who are authorized to carry guns, forcibly detain, and in some cases kill. There’s a strong argument that journalists should make every effort to expose the identities of officers who use force in questionable ways, not go out of their way to obscure them.
I don’t like strip clubs. I think they’re gross and attract a bad element. If there’s a reason the cops thought it was fine to raid the strip club and had a warrant, fine. But there was nothing of the sort alluded to. The Lieutenant said it was “an inspection” and later said it was “for investgative purposes.” Which is it? Is there an investigation or not?
Do cops the county health department raid businesses and take pictures of law abiding waiters to make sure they have their food handlers cards? Is this behavior NORMAL?
Bernie Giusto and I have been commenting on KOGO Radio and on this blog about the San Diego Police Department and its wayward ways here and here. Even with a new chief in place, here we go again.
Ed’s note: This piece has been edited to include the announced new police chief.
Every company hires a few bad apples. What’s the big deal? It’s only a few cops at San Diego PD.
I’ve heard variations of the above comments since the latest San Diego Police officer sex scandal broke into the open in the last couple of weeks. I love the cops too, but hiring cops and hiring janitors or secretaries or managers don’t equate, not even a little bit.
Can a janitor detain you, cuff you, arrest you, intimidate you under color of authority? Can a snide comment to a secretary get you thrown in the back of a police cruiser? Can a manager light you up and pull you over to get a phone number from you? Once you get dragged to jail, who will believe you when you say the cops roughed you up because you merely verbally protested being deprived of your liberty? When a cop shows up at your door and wants you to ‘talk’ while sporting his 9mm or .38, does it feel like there’s even a choice?
These are no small things. Cops can take your liberty from you. They can lie about why they arrested, ticketed or detained you and get away with it because the court considers them expert witnesses. And you? You’re at their mercy.
Let me repeat: Your very liberty is at stake so you’d better be sure that San Diego is running a clean outfit.
I support the cops. Always have. To a fault, even. We need law enforcement. That’s why we can’t afford bad cops. We’re dependent upon the ethical, legal and constitutional treatment by cops toward us and we should not tolerate a culture that fosters bad ones. The time has come for San Diego Police to do some house cleaning. That’s why it’s a good idea Chief Bill Lansdowne is leaving and why I called for his resignation, albeit reluctantly, last week on the radio. I’m not sure new Mayor Kevin Faulconer should be done with his purge.
I’ve heard the myth that there are alternately “only two sex scandals” or “no scandals” at the cop shop. Codswallop.
The following list of incidents is from just four recent stories about the cop shop (here, here,here and here). To wit,
2009-2011 Anthony Arevalos, in prison for sex crimes against women he pulled over on traffic stops.
2011 “At least nine officers were investigated for criminal conduct in the first half of 2011, allegations that ranged from off-duty domestic violence and DUI to on-duty rape of a prostitute.”
2011 “Police announced charging one of their own with kidnapping and raping a 34-year-old woman while on duty. The officer, Daniel Dana, 26, is no longer employed by the department and was the 10th officer accused of serious or criminal misconduct in recent months.”
2011 Posters mocking drugging women to get sex and soft core porn posters in the cubicle of a SEX CRIMES DETECTIVE.
2012, “[T]raffic Sgt. Kevin Friedman, who was [Anthony] Arevalos’ supervisor, resigned after pleading no contest to destroying the traffic citation of a prosecutor friend.
2013 Chris Hays, accused of groping women he pulled over.
Various acts of apparent nepotism occurred, including hiring a son in law, helping the son of a captain get out of a scrape, helping a fellow cop get out of a DUI.
I’m sensing a pattern here.
As I discussed on the air last week, in 2003, the then new Chief Lansdowne ended a police corruption unit that was proactive in nature. They tried to see if cops would fall for bait and turn bad. While I understand this was a real morale buster, it appears it was needed. According to the latest stats from the UT, “Department records show internal investigations have increased, from 103 in 2011 to 169 last year.” I’ll bet they’re missing some.
I hear folks saying there are plenty of good candidates to replace Chief Lansdowne among the top brass. Citizens should demand a full personnel airing to determine they’re not part of the problem. The new mayor has circumvented a long search and named 31 year veteran, Assistant Chief Shelley Zimmerman, to the post.
The person directly responsible for that anti corruption unit was Executive Assistant Chief David Ramirez. It sounds like we could use him and the anti corruption outfit right about now.
Being a cop is an insular business. As my friend Steven Russelle, a retired Portland cop wrote (before the Chief resigned),
[S]urprises like these bad cops do crop up from time to time. All of the ordinary influences are at work on cops as they are on everyone else. Additionally, cops often stick together too tight and head down risky paths (say, by drinking and partying hard after work), or they stick together too loosely off work and one lonely guy gets in the grease because behind his loneliness is a screwy personality problem ( girls and how to find them, maybe). Sticking together is the key phrase in each.
The cops are together through thick and thin at work and forgive quite a lot of odd behavior, because each recognizes himself in the emotions he perceives by projection in the other. But cops are very very good at sensing wrong signals. The skill is life and death to them. I have seen bad signals in cops hundreds of times. Noticing something once or twice in a guy who deals with what cops do, is nothing noteworthy. Bad signs could probably be attributed of every one of us. But a pattern is different. In my experience, in the past 25 years or so, patterns of boozing are handled fairly well and co-workers intervene to help. Other patterns often come to the Department’s attention when cops are actually caught with whores or watching kids or when someone calls in the information for instance cops themselves catching cops breaking the law, and citizens (often suspects) reporting stolen dope or money and things like that.
The Chief, if he’s been around a while, should be fired because he’s part of the problem if there IS one.
The San Diego Police Department has been riven with scandal. Cops trading tickets for sex, an on-duty rape of a prostitute, groping ‘pat downs’ of suspects, soft-core porn sex posters at the desk of a sex crimes unit investigator and apparent nepotism have corroded the morale and morality of America’s Finest City’s cop shop.
And then there are the lawsuits. Plenty of lawsuits. Lawsuits from female victims of the cops. Lawsuits from fellow female detectives. Millions of dollars in lawsuits.
But San Diego’s Police Department is apparently losing something even more valuable: Public trust. One female activist told the Union Tribune, “Who is going to stop for a police officer?” asked Lei-Chala Wilson, a retired deputy public defender and president of the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “I’m not stopping.”
San Diegans have shown they have no appetite for this kind of behavior. They just booted the city’s top groper, erstwhile Mayor Bob Filner. They threw Filner out and hired a squeaky clean new mayor. Now Kevin Faulconer needs to clean house.
Chief Bill Lansdowne has called for an “audit” of his department. When under fire, take cover. That’s what this is. Before the city spends one penny on that audit, however, these things should happen right now:
1) An immediate stop placed on all hiring of police officers pending an expedited review of the Police Officer Hiring process;
2) There needs to be a targeted and unbending review of the Psychological profile which has been developed for the hiring of police officers. There is something wrong with that profile. It is likely incomplete or inaccurately focused;
3) There must be a special emphasis placed on developing a hiring profile that dramatically tightens the screen on sorting out individuals who are identified as have notable potential for acting outside of socio-acceptable norms and especially for acting those out in positions of authority or otherwise. In my last years at Gresham and the Sheriff’s Office, Dr David Corey and I talked about such a screen and at the time he was working that issue through. He believed it was the next great public confidence cesspool for law enforcement;
4) He needs a similar profile developed for the supervisory promotion process with a slightly different emphasis. This is critical at the first line supervisor levels ( promotion to Corporal Rank if any and at the rank of Sergeant). The emphasis here should be about assessing the sensitivity;
5) The probation evaluation process apparently need a total do-over. When the rank and file tell you there is a problem with who gets passed into the regular cop club at the end of probation be assured there is a problem. It needs a do-over.
6) If the hiring process is not operated by the police department but is primarily in the hands of a city civil service process it must be returned singularly to SDPD with special oversight by the Mayor’s Office and the City Council.
7) The Chief needs to seek union support for a strong “Fitness For Duty” management right. This is important in creating a “reasonable suspicion” standard that allows deviant or unreasonable behavior outside of police norms will subject individual veteran police officers to a Fitness for Duty examination with a strong emphasis on confidentiality regardless of the eventual outcome and of course subject to California’s Public Records law and finally;
8) All of those need to be conducted outside the Chief’ Office direct or indirect control. The Chief should immediately enlist a panel of three active Police Chiefs and or Sheriffs with stellar personnel background experience and results to guide the above processes. It is fine to have the two other organizations do a longer term look at the department/community relations overall but there is an urgency that frantically needs an “outside real cop” expertise.
If the city goes forward with the audit–an underwhelming approach–it should be run out of the Mayor’s Office and/or by an independent Chief of police. The command structure of SDPD should remain totally on the sidelines and not inform the investigation at all except as they are interviewed. The auditing organization would report only to that specially administrative oversight and the final report would be released by the Mayor and without any hands editing on by SDPD Chief’s administrative structure. Having said all that…FAT CHANCE best describes even the remotest possibility that will happen.
As for the Chief himself, he owes the public a careful look to see if he is actually capable of stopping this very serious problem. Or is it just another academic exercise that will feel to the public like another good old fashion public policy rope-a-dope?
Bernie Giusto is the retired Multnomah County Sheriff, former Gresham Police Chief, former Gresham City Council Member and is a member of the www.VictoriaTaft.com Blogforce.