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

SDPD Chief Wants to Stay, See Department Through Scandal

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    NEWSLETTERS

    On Monday, San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne ordered a long-running outside review of his department amid accusations against officers. Attorneys for women bringing complaints say they don’t want an audit, but rather an outside monitor to run the department and make reforms. NBC 7’s Gene Cubbison talks to the chief about his decision—and the future of his job.

    San Diego’s top cop wants to keep his job and see the city and his department through an intense scandal sparked by the arrest of another alleged “rogue cop.”

    Police Chief William Lansdowne told NBC 7 Monday that he’s one of just a few police chiefs with the experience to manage the department through a scandal like the one that involves convicted crooked cop Anthony Arevalos and the recent arrest of Officer Christopher Hays.

    Arevalos was convicted on multiple sex crimes while on the job and in uniform. He is serving an eight year prison sentence.

    SDPD Chief Seeks Audit

    [DGO]SDPD Chief Seeks Audit
    Police Chief William Lansdowne speaks to NBC 7 for the first time about his call for an independent audit of his department. NBC 7's Elena Gomez reports.

    Officer Hays is on administrative leave, accused by several women of sexual misconduct on the job, including giving improper pat downs.

    The chief will meet Tuesday with San Diego’s Mayor-Elect Kevin Faulconer to discuss the department’s direction.

    San Diego Police Officer Chris Hays Booked

    [DGO] San Diego Police Officer Chris Hays Booked
    NBC 7's Omari Fleming reports on Sunday's arrest of officer Chris Hays on sexual battery charges.

    The newly-elected mayor released a statement Sunday that spoke of “rebuilding the police department” and an independent audit.

    Lansdowne supports the idea of an external audit on recruiting, background search process, ethics training and the internal affairs investigations.

    “It may take 6 months to a year or so but during the process they would advise us if they saw something that needed immediate attention and we would implement that quickly,” Lansdowne said.

    Also, the department’s nine divisions will begin a review process next month in which calls are reviewed to see if an officer was professional and provided the right service, the chief said.

    At 69, Lansdowne has been leading the SDPD for 10 years. That’s longer than the three year average term of most big city police chiefs, he said.

    “I would like to stay. I’m excited about this police department and everything they do but I also understand it’s his decision to make,” he said referring to the mayor-elect.

    Lansdowne said he has been approached by a couple of smaller cities but he’d like to stay at the helm of the SDPD through the investigation and audit.

    “I can lose my job at any day for any reason but you can’t make decisions and you can’t move forward if you’re worried about losing your job,” he explained.

    Hays, 30, was taken into police custody Feb. 9 after the District Attorney's Office and Hays' attorney negotiated a self-surrender.

    He posted $130,000 bail.

    Chief Lansdowne said Hays was expected to be arraigned Tuesday. The San Diego County District Attorney's Office has not released details on pending charges.

    Jurors convicted Arevalos in 2012 for preying on young, female drivers during traffic stops made in the Gaslamp Quarter from 2009 to 2011.

    The city has been sued by several his victims in civil court. Most of the cases have been settled.

    One remaining case, filed by a victim known only as "Jane Doe" claims the city didn't do enough to prevent the crimes because the department failed to control Arevalos.

    After the arrest of Arevalos, Lansdowne implemented immediate changes in the department including faster and more thorough investigations of alleged wrong doing, better training, a hotline to report misconduct and a special "wellness unit" to help officers get counseling before problems happen.
     

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