Is the "thin blue line" eroding in America's Finest City?

SDPD Officer Investigated for "Suggestive" Photos

Allegations center on a detained woman's cell phone

By Gene Cubbison
|  Wednesday, Jun 1, 2011  |  Updated 8:09 PM PDT
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Cop Investigated for "Suggestive" Photos

NBCSanDiego

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Cop Investigated for "Suggestive" Photos

The San Diego Police Department officer allegedly took photos from a detained woman's cell phone and sent them to himself.
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More disciplinary issues are surfacing for the San Diego Police Department's top brass.

NBC San Diego has learned that yet another officer is under investigation for alleged on-duty misconduct, bringing the total number to at least 10.

Independent, reliable sources tell us the investigation involves an officer finding what they describe as "suggestive" pictures on the cell phone of a woman who was in custody -- and sending them to himself.

The department is not confirming or denying our information.

A police spokeswoman says it's a "non-criminal personnel" matter.

Our sources say the officer in question is assigned to the Northwestern Division station in Carmel Valley.

He's a three-year veteran of the force, according to a police document.

And the complaint by the woman whose phone he allegedly used to send himself the "suggestive" photos was filed on the department's confidential hotline for reporting cases of police misconduct.

The hotline became operational May 12.

Details of the interaction between that woman and the officer are still unclear.

But given the broad outline,"Certainly it's a violation of her civil rights," says attorney Marc Carlos, a criminal defense specialist not involved in the case.

Carlos says the conduct may have potential criminal as well as civil implications -- and at the very least, a serious matter for Internal Affairs.

"I believe that sending photos to yourself off of any suspect's phone is going to be against any police department's policy, probably throughout the country," Carlos added.

Since the hotline went into service, it's received calls not only from citizens, but officers themselves -- reporting concerns about potential misconduct on the part of their colleagues.

"They don't want them to get fired unless it's a criminal event," Police Chief William Lansdowne said in an interview Tuesday, before NBC San Diego learned of the investigation. "but they want them to get the help, and they want some vehicle to do that without shining the spotlight on them."

As for the recent rash of police misconduct cases, Lansdowne continued: "There are a few officers that have caused some very difficult problems in the police department.

"But that doesn't represent those who are the 19-hundred sworn police officers ... and they're feeling that they're all being painted with the same brush."

While NBC San Diego is aware of the officer's identity, station policy requires that it not be revealed because no arrest has been made.
 

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