By Doug Porter / San Diego Free Press
Police Chief Bill Lansdowne called a press conference [Wednesday] evening to announce yet another reported incident of sexual misconduct involving a SDPD officer.
One of the women contacting the SDPD following allegations against officer Christopher Hays, provided information leading to yet another officer, who is now under investigation for allegedly touching and exposing himself to a female arrestee.
The chief told the assembled press that the officer has been placed on paid administrative leave while the investigation continues. “We are doing everything we should be doing in this case,” Lansdowne said, and repeated an earlier plea for any other potential victims or witnesses to come forward to report wrongdoing
Voice of San Diego reported yesterday that Lansdowne’s promise to bring in an independent auditor bypassed the city’s own office in charge of such things.
That was news to San Diego Independent Auditor Eduardo Luna, the guy typically in charge of these sorts of things. He hadn’t heard of Lansdowne’s request until it hit the paper.
“As the city’s independent auditor, I welcome having a role in it if that’s what the City Council and the mayor desires,” Luna said.
The terms of the outside SDPD review will determine the worthiness of the entire exercise. Control over an audit’s scope, findings and follow-through matters significantly to its credibility and capacity to usher in change. Luna’s involvement could be one way to ensure its independence.
It’s become apparent auditor independence and mandatory requirements for procedural and structural changes are the two things Lansdowne and his enablers at city hall want to avoid. City Attorney Jan Goldsmith is fighting a furious legal battle against demands by an earlier sexual assault victim that an outside monitor be brought in to oversee practices in the SDPD.
Liam Dillon’s story at VOSD says the SDPD chief’s idea for bringing in an outside auditor is based on a similar move made by Philadelphia following a spike in police-involved shootings.
Via Philly.com, whose reporting prompted Philadelphia’s Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to review his department’s use of force policy:
By inviting the DOJ to work with the department, instead of waiting for the feds to take action, Ramsey headed off what could have been forced changes and years of oversight. And by taking the first step, the department is also likely to avoid court involvement and potential embarrassment.
There’s one huge difference between the situations in Philadelphia and San Diego. The audit of Ramsey’s department was triggered by a short term (2012) series of incidents. Chief Lansdowne’s problems go back over a decade, according to allegations made in several cases regarding sexual misconduct.
What we are talking about here is a culture of misogyny, that has impacted everything from on-the-job harassment (in the sex crimes unit!) to a police officer feeling free to share cell phone photos of his “conquests” with his co-workers.
Mayor elect Kevin Faulconer issued a nice generic statement following last evening’s press conference:
“Ensuring confidence and trust in the San Diego Police Department is my top priority. San Diegans will see that this is the immediate focus of my administration when I take office.”
It’s time to bring in an outside set of eyes. Will any local politician be willing to stand up for justice here?