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A Chief's Plan to Reduce Officer Misconduct

A Chief's Plan to Reduce Officer Misconduct

Surrounded by his command staff, San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne outlined his department's plan for dealing with a recent rash of officer misconduct cases.

San Diego Union Tribune via YellowBrix

May 11, 2011

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne, addressing a recent rash of investigations into alleged wrongdoings by his officers, unveiled a seven-point plan Tuesday to reduce such misconduct.

The program comes on the heels of at least eight investigations into San Diego officers accused of crimes such as rape, domestic violence, drunken driving and sexual battery under the color of authority.

Lansdowne said the “unprecedented number” of cases against officers has tarnished the Police Department’s image and that it will take years to rebuild a strong relationship with the public.

“I want to personally apologize to every citizen of San Diego,” Lansdowne said during a news conference in front of police headquarters.

The chief said officers have faced the same financial, personal and work stresses as everyone else in the challenging economy, which may be contributing to the rise in on- and off-duty misconduct.

“But at the end of the day, there is no excuse at all for the conduct of these officers,” Lansdowne said.

The chief’s plan includes the following:

• Increase staffing in the Internal Affairs Unit so that citizen complaints and officer misconduct cases can be investigated more quickly. That way, misconduct can be addressed sooner, and disciplinary action can be taken closer to the incident.

• Increase training of supervisors in areas of ethics, leadership and the Early Identification Intervention System. The system is set up to “red-flag” certain behavior that may indicate future misconduct. Those indicators could be anything from increased traffic accidents to showing up late for work repeatedly to aggressive behavior.

• Set up an anonymous complaint hotline for the public to provide information about officers. The chief will listen to the hotline calls.

• Review the department discipline manual to make sure policies are up-to-date and make changes where necessary.

• Review the department’s Use of Force training and tactics.

• Add a “wellness assessment” to the annual evaluation process. Supervisors will do a personal assessment of the officers each year and guide them toward resources to help with personal issues. Confidentiality will be stressed, to make officers feel comfortable talking about problems.

• Meet with every officer in the department to explain the new plan. The chief plans to begin the meetings within the next couple of weeks and will make clear his expectations for all officers.

Sgt. Jeff Jordon, a board member of the city’s Police Officers Association, said that for a department that has been historically well-mannered for the most part, the spate of misconduct investigations has risen to a level he’s never seen.

Will the Chief’s Strategy Work?

“I absolutely agree with this program,” said Jordan, who has been on the force for about 10 years. “The chief is reminding officers that we understand a lot of your problems, but at the end of the day we expect more of you, and we’ll be here to get you there.”

Tuesday’s news conference came a few days after the latest officer arrest. Officer William Johnson, a 12-year veteran, was arrested in Chula Vista over the weekend on suspicion of driving under the influence following a crash. Chula Vista police said Johnson’s Lexus struck the back of a BMW about 11 p.m. Saturday. A passenger in the BMW suffered a cut on an eyebrow.

The other San Diego police officers under investigation are:

• Officer Bert Hulbert: On paid administrative duty while under investigation on allegations that he had an off-duty altercation with a teenage neighbor in Miramar on April 11.

• Art Perea, 42: Resigned March 4 amid an El Cajon police investigation into a college student’s allegations he raped her at a residence. Police said they are awaiting lab results on forensic evidence and then will decide whether to send the case to the district attorney for charges.

• Officer Roel Tungcab, 39: Arrested March 24 by sheriff’s deputies investigating domestic violence against his wife at his Imperial Beach home. He continues to work on paid administrative duty while the district attorney considers charges.

• Officer David Hall: Has pleaded not guilty to charges of felony drunken driving causing injury and felony hit and run in connection with an incident Feb. 22 while off-duty. He is on paid administrative duty.

• Sgt. Kenneth Davis, 47: Charged Feb. 10 with one count of stalking and three counts of making harassing phone calls to a female San Diego police officer last fall. He is on paid administrative duty and will go to trial on the charges.

• Anthony Arevalos, 40: Fired April 14 after being charged with sexually assaulting five women while on-duty. The 18-year veteran, who has been working as a DUI officer, was terminated after an internal investigation. He was arrested March 11 and faces 18 felony charges that include sexual battery, assault under the color of authority and bribery.

• Robert Acosta, 39: Charged Oct. 6, along with his wife, with causing $165,000 in damage to their foreclosed home in Murrieta. The couple is also accused of stealing $44,000 in property from the home. Acosta, who worked in the department’s helicopter unit, later resigned. A preliminary hearing is set for this summer.

  • Reblemac_max50


    about 3 years ago


    gradyg what if a gang unit officer is targeted by thugs who make false aligations over and over. Is he to be put on unpaid leave until it is found that he was just doing a good job. Innocent until proven guilty goes for cops too.

  • Derrick_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Paid administrative duty is no punishment, suspension until the investigation is over and if found guilty they lose everything, if not found guilty they get the back pay and continue their careers, that way a lot of police officers wouldn't go out and break the laws they suppose to uphold. Knowing they are not going to be getting a pay check and not working until the investigation is over will change some minds.

  • In_remembrance_of_oakland_pd_max50_max50_max50_max50_max50


    over 3 years ago


    I applaud the Chief for taking this course of action.

  • Me2_max50


    over 3 years ago


    I am going to have to oppose the anonymous calls too. Then anyone can complain about something and it may not be true. I know this happens a lot with documented ones but I have a feeling that it would occur more often. But a good plan overall.

  • White_shirt_max50


    over 3 years ago


    That agency has some major issues. I am opposed to anonymous complaints and feel all complaints should be documented and investigated.

  • Justified_max50


    over 3 years ago


    I'll tell you first hand that anonymous reporting will be the first thing that blows up. Anyone and their mother who gets a traffic ticket, fine, or arrested will complain about the officer they came in contact with. Can't comment on the wellness evaluation (not a cop, won't pretend to be one).

  • Pug_max600_max50


    over 3 years ago


    GO CHIEF. You have a challenge ahead. If you don't stumble as a rookie there seems to be another big obstacle at the middle age crisis occurs for many after the kids have left the nest. Stress and the economy all contribute to make a good man stumble over the obstacles.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    I read an article in a business magazine a while back that explained a syndrome whereby someone reaches the pinnacle of their success within the organization, and then inexplicably self-destructs. THAT seems to be what's going on, from what I'm reading here. No youngsters, inexperienced or rookie officers, all of the ages posted appear to be the kinds of officers that many would look to for leadership or mentoring. It's always distressing to see this occur in people we all expect to do better due to their experience and/or years of service. Good overall plan, Chief, of course it will need some fine tuning when it gets up and running, and I hope it helps the SDPD get a handle on things before more drastic (as in Federal) measures are needed.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    Good luck Chief. And good luck to those who are out there working hard and being the best Officers you can be, but be careful. Im sure if your gig line isn't right for the firt couple months or years of this change you may be investigated. the wellness program is crap. that will allow supervisors to use it when they want for any stupid and probably personal reason. And the IA will be busy with the phone calls on the ANON hotline.. another crap. Look, hold POS officers acceptable and hang'em high if you can prove it. But, ANON complaints!? waste of time and money. Put a name and face and FACTS to a complaint and go get 'em!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago

    why would there need to be incentives for officers to not be involved in misconduct? we are sworn to uphold the law, and in doing so, we SHOULD hold ourselves to a higher standard than the general public! The second I put on my uniform every morning I strive towards excellence.

    Keep up the good work Chief! Weed out the bad, and continue to keep the community safe!

  • Me_max50


    over 3 years ago


    How about incentives for the officers who aren't involved in misconduct. All of these are geared towards reactive correction. How about giving the officers a reason to strive towards excellence. And by the way chief, law enforcement not only shares the economical burden of everyone else in society, but also the added stress of handling everyone else's inability to cope.

  • 827-2294l_max50


    over 3 years ago


    I am ok with everything except the "wellness" program. That could get sideways real quick.

  • Jpd_new_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Hopefully the Chief will only go after the bad ones and not use "blanket policies" to punish all the Officers. Unfortunatelly, there will always be bad apples in every bunch.

  • Esu_patch_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Notice the ages of these guys? Didnt seem to be any rookies, all older probably more tenured officers. These would usually be the guys you build a dept around. I realize these types of incidents are not automatically linked to one age group but I was a little surprised none of the younger guys involved.

  • Untitledma28839986-0002_max50


    over 3 years ago


    You have to start somewhere to weed out the problems. Good luck Chief Landsdowne.

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