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.