Friday, May 13, 2011
A new police misconduct "hotline" was up and running today in San Diego, as promised earlier this week by SDPD Chief William Lansdowne in response to a recent spate of alleged crimes committed by officers with his department.
The public can report complaints about suspected misconduct on the part of the city's police personnel, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by calling the new tip service at (619) 531-2672. It went into operation Thursday.
"The hotline will be completely confidential, and calls will be retrieved on a daily basis," SDPD public affairs Lt. Andra Brown said. "Callers may leave a message stating their concerns or allegations, and the information will be reviewed by the chief of police."
The service is intended to help "the citizens we serve, as well as the members of the department, to have the highest level of confidence in our officers," Brown said.
In announcing the complaint line, Lansdowne said the messages would go "directly" to his office and be heard by him alone.
On Tuesday, the chief publicly apologized for what he called an "unprecedented number" of accusations of impropriety or criminal behavior on the part of SDPD personnel over the last three months -- at least 10 cases, six of which have resulted in arrests of officers -- and outlined a set of strategies aimed at "greatly reducing future incidents."
In addition to the tip line, the program includes increased internal affairs staffing, more ethics training, a review of the department's discipline manual and use-of-force tactics, psychological "wellness" assessments during officers' annual evaluations, and a series of meetings with all employees.
The day after Lansdowne announced the reform plan, a young officer was arrested for allegedly raping a prostitute in Presidio Park while on duty.
Daniel Edward Dana, 26, faces multiple sex-assault counts and charges of kidnapping and assault by a peace officer. Within hours of the alleged crimes, the married Escondido resident was no longer employed by the Police Department. SDPD officials declined to disclose whether he resigned or was fired.
Seven other San Diego police officers face criminal charges ranging from drunken driving and stalking to repeated sexual battery in cases that came to light over the past three months. Two others are the subject of internal probes stemming from citizen videotapes that possibly captured evidence of excessive force during arrests.