When San Diego police Chief William Lansdowne faced a line of television cameras May 10, 2011, he apologized for recent police misconduct and admitted the damage done to the department's reputation within the community may take years to repair.
“I want to personally apologize to every citizen of San Diego,“ said Lansdowne.
Seasoned officers have been involved in a number of investigations in the last four months ranging from suspicion of driving under the influence to allegations of stalking, rape and sexual battery under the color of authority.
Lansdowne called the number of investigations unprecedented and said the behavior was not expected or condoned by anyone in the department.
“I’m here as the chief to tell you, at the end of the day, there is no excuse at all for the conduct of the officers you’re talking about,” he said.
The department began working on a seven-point program to help curb potential misconduct in January when they started spotting signs among officers Lansdowne said. Those signs included among other things an increase in automobile accidents, late arrivals, complaints from the public and the number of officers going to the internal wellness program asking for assistance.
The police department is down about 300 positions right now, the chief said, and that has had an impact.
“I lose about five officers a month right now,” he said. “There is a real attrition problem in the police department as we try and rebuild it.”
Lansdowne offered up his leadership team to local reporters to help explain how the new Early Identification and Intervention System" will work.
Here are some of the key elements:
- Supervisors will receive additional training to look for red flags for possible misconduct
- The department's internal affairs unit will receive increased resources
- A 24-hour hotline will send complaints directly to Chief Lansdowne
Lansdowne said he will work hard to repair the department's reputation but acknowledged "it will take years to repair that between us and the people of San Diego.”
The most recent incident occurrred in Chula Vista Saturday when San Diego police officer William Johnson, a 12-year veteran on the force, was arrested after an accident on Telegraph Canyon Road and Paseo Ladera. Johnson, who was driving his personal vehicle, was arrested for DUI and released Sunday morning on his own recognizance.
Other incidents include former police officer Anthony Arevalos who was fired after his arraignment on multiple charges for accused sexual battery, false imprisonment and assault under the color of authority stemming from traffic stops between 2009 and 2011, an unidentified officer who resigned citing personal reasons after he had been suspended without pay and accused of raping a Point Loma Nazarene University student and veteran San Diego police Sgt. Ken Davis who faces one felony and three misdemeanor charges stemming from accusations he stalked a female officer and repeatedly harassed her with unwanted phone calls and other contact. Davis pleaded not guilty, and the judge has allowed him to remain free on his own recognizance. He’s on paid administrative duty.