San Diego’s interim mayor said he has complete confidence in the city’s police chief despite a widening scandal involving a former officer charged with sex crimes and a second officer accused of misconduct on the job.
Interim Mayor Todd Gloria used the phrase “handful of bad apples” to describe a police officer under investigation for touching a female in custody and exposing himself and the former police officer who was arrested and faces criminal charges for similar conduct.
Former officer Christopher Hays, who resigned from the department Wednesday, has been charged with false imprisonment and sexual battery.
Late Wednesday, Chief William Lansdowne announced that while investigating Hays, his department learned another officer is accused of inappropriately touching a woman.
The interim mayor pointed to what he described as swift action in connection with former San Diego police officer Christopher Hays, and the “full disclosure and transparency” shown Wednesday was proof that the city is taking the allegations seriously.
He said he has seen no evidence to show it’s a systemic problem and looks to an upcoming external audit to confirm that’s the case.
Gloria pointed out as serious as the allegations are, the officers accused of misconduct are a small percentage of the force: just two out of 1725.
“If they are following the law and doing their jobs well, as most of them do, they will have our support. If they are breaking the law, we will actively and aggressively take action to get them out of the field and have them leave the department,” Gloria said.
The city can rely on Lansdowne to fix the problems plaguing the department he’s been in charge of for more than a decade, Gloria said.
Hays faces two felony false imprisonment charges and three misdemeanor sexual battery charges for “improper pat downs.” He left the department because he felt betrayed by his colleagues. He is free on bail.
Lansdowne did not identify the second officer accused of misconduct because he has not been charged in the investigation.
The external audit could cost upwards of $200,000.
“Whatever expense it is, again, I don’t think there’s a cost that’s too high to pay to make sure we have the public’s trust,” Gloria said.
The chief will make a decision on the audit next week and present it to a City Council committee.