The San Diego police department’s scandal involving officers accused of preying on women who they came in contact with while in uniform and on duty needs to be addressed.
First, former officer Anthony Arevalos is serving an eight year sentence for molesting female drivers during traffic stops in the Gaslamp quarter from 2009 to 2011. As a result, Chief William Lansdowne implemented changes within the department to help uncover the potential for other rogue officers to go unnoticed.
Then, on Feb. 9, Officer Christopher Hays was booked on criminal charges in connection with inappropriate pat downs that prosecutors allege were done for his sexual gratification.
In the process of the Hays investigation, another unidentified officer was accused of exposing himself and inappropriately touching a female in custody.
The department launched a new policy requiring TWO officers to accompany females in custody.
The timeline of events are as follows:
- Oct. 30, 2013: Woman identified as “Jane Doe 1? was frisked by Officer Hays. She is later named in a criminal complaint alleging false imprisonment and sexual battery.
- Nov. 10, 2013: Hays allegedly committed sexual battery in an incident involving a woman identified as “Jane Doe 2”, according to a criminal complaint filed against Hays on February 18.
- Dec. 23, 2013: Hays is accused of sexual battery involving a woman identified as Jane Doe 3 according to a criminal complaint filed following his arrest.
- Dec. 24, 2013: A fourth incident allegedly occurred this time involving false imprisonment of a woman identified as Jane Doe 4, prosecutors allege.
- December 2013: After a woman contacted SDPD complaining about Hays’ behavior during a “pat down,” an internal affairs investigation was launched.
- January 2014: Case was handed over to the San Diego District Attorney’s Office for investigation.
- Feb. 6: Chief Lansdowne confirms an officer is under investigation for sexual misconduct involving four women.
- Feb. 7: Attorney Dan Gilleon claims a fifth woman has come forward with allegations that are more severe than what the victims before her may have alleged. His client claims she was coerced into giving Hays oral sex in exchange for her freedom in October 2012. She claims she contacted SDPD but did not receive a call back.
- Feb 9: Officer Hays was booked into San Diego County Jail on charges of false imprisonment and sexual battery.
- Feb. 9: Chief Lansdowne confirms five alleged victims had contacted the police to accuse Hays of improper pat downs and the sixth woman had gone to Gilleon.
- Feb. 14: Attorney Brian Watkins said he represents a seventh alleged victim who claims Hays touched her breasts, “caressed her crotch, caressed her buttocks and then grabbed her wrist and put her hand on his crotch” during a pat down in October 2013. His client did not report the incident to police.
- Feb. 18: District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announces two charges of felony false imprisonment and three counts of misdemeanor sexual battery were filed against Hays on behalf of four women.
- Feb. 19: Hays officially resigns from the department. His attorney said Hays felt betrayed by his colleagues.
- Feb. 19: San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne announces another officer has been accused of touching a female detainee arrested on suspicion of auto theft. The unidentified officer has not been charged. The alleged victim called to report the incident because she believed he was Hays.
- Feb. 19: The department also announced a new policy that two officers would accompany every female detainee or arrestee going forward.
In addition, a series of sexually suggestive posters hung in the San Diego Police Department’s sex crimes unit in 2011, as Officer Anthony Arevalos patrolled the streets trading tickets for sexual favors.” Former officer Arevalos is now serving an eight year sentence for molesting female drivers during traffic stops in the Gaslamp quarter from 2009 to 2011. This year, ABC 10 news discovered the posters while investigating San Diego police culture now that another San Diego police officer is under investigation for sexually assaulting women while on duty. The posters’ existence had been reported, but they had never been seen by the public until now.
In addition “NBC 7 learned the identity of a second San Diego Police officer accused of misconduct. Multiple police sources confirm that Officer Donald Moncrief, 39, is accused of touching the woman he was arresting and exposing himself to her.”
We deserve to be safe. The recurrences of sexual assault committed by the above named officers as well as the investigation of San Diego police department’s facility concluded that we are not. Putting a woman or anyone in a position where they are LEGALLY sexually violated UNDER ANY THREAT should never happen. These THREATS are also in the form of entrapment by undercover police officers who are ALLOWED to lie, engage in sexual and illegal activities in an attempt to further incriminate the victim by either to face jail or deportation. The same applies to strip searches, stop and frisk procedures as well as intimate partner violence committed at a rate HIGHER than that of the general public, all while under the impunity protected by law enforcement’s blue code of silence; a brotherhood they hold protecting their own perpetrators who serve in the force.
The SDPD needs to be vigilant in training its officers and ensuring that there are consequences for breaking the law and violating basic ethical rules.
As members of United Against Police Terror and other allied organizations, we demand The Police Chief and other leadership:
- Institute sustained and comprehensive training for EVERY incoming class of officers on rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and proper police conduct. A single training session, or a simplistic lecture not to rape, is NOT acceptable.
- Institute a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexualized behavior while on the job. While the media has only uncovered some severe cases, it illustrates an extreme example of police officers using their power to abuse women and too many of us have witnessed officers behaving in sexually inappropriate ways while on the job. There is no excuse for that behavior, and the police force must take it seriously. We want an easily-accessible reporting mechanism for sexual assault and harassment at the hands of police officers, and a demonstrated commitment to punishing officers who exploit their position to harass and assault the people they are supposed to protect.
- Be accountable to the community of San Diego in a transparent process by hiring an independent community appointed auditor of law enforcement as well as implementing the above two demands. They must keep community leaders and San Diego County residents informed about the initiatives they institute, as well as keeping local politicians accountable and how they are working to make sure this victims shaming culture is not allowed and these uniformed perpetrators are NOT above the law!