The San Diego Police Department now has a long list of ways to help weed out misconduct among officers, thanks to recommendations in the U.S. Department of Justice audit released Tuesday. But community leaders are worried about what the audit does not bring up, namely racial profiling.
“It is garbage in, garbage out from the standpoint of, unless they're looking at everything, then it's really not a true audit, and it's really just more lip service,” said attorney Dan Gilleon, who has represented SDPD officers in employments and injury cases.
The 83-page audit contains 40 recommendations to handle gaps in policies and practices used to prevent, find and investigate misconduct in the SDPD.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties said many of the suggestions are necessary to the address potential problems.
“While we support these recommendations, we are troubled that the report does not adequately address racial and ethnic profiling within the Department,” the statement read. “It is time for the SDPD to modify its overall culture and make a commitment to protecting and serving all San Diegans. No San Diegan should be subjected to profiling by the SDPD.”
The ACLU believes the report should be taken to heart, but it is only one small piece of larger reform that needs to take place to regain public trust.
Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office Director Ronald Davis, who led the audit, said it did not explore racial profiling because they were not asked to look at that.
“I think the conversation about police and race and dealing with implicit bias, and also dealing with racism, is a conversation that has to occur,” said Davis “This specific audit and assessment was about 17 cases, specific cases and how to detect and investigate misconduct.”
Other leaders are more enthusiastic about changes the report will bring about within the department. Former SDPD Chief William Lansdowne called the audit “well done” and right on point.
Lansdowne, who requested the review of his department before he resigned last year, told NBC 7 he hopes this sends a message to other police departments that this sort of reevaluation is OK to do.
San Diego attorney Brian Watkins said the audit showed serious problems in leadership, extending all the way down to its patrol officers.
“The positive in this is that it has been recognized and is being addressed,” he said in an email. “Time will tell if these issues have been completely eradicated or if they will reappear.”
SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman explained Tuesday that many of the recommendations have already been implemented by her officers, and the rest will be incorporated in the future. Lansdowne said he believes Zimmerman is the one to get these changes done.