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10 News Explores SDPD’s Silence On Sexual Assaults

Aired 11/8/11 on KPBS News.

Is the San Diego Police Department letting the public know about danger in their neighborhoods in a timely manner?

ED JOYCE (KPBS News): Is the San Diego Police Department letting the public know about danger in their neighborhoods in a timely manner? The 10News I-team looked at three high profile sexual assault cases - including a double rape in Rancho Penasquitos and the John Gardner case. Investigative Reporter Mitch Blacher with the 10News I-Team tells us in each case Police delayed getting information to the public or only released details to certain people.

MITCH BLACHER (10News I-Team): What we saw was they were consistently inconsistent. In Thomas Parker’s case he commits almost a dozen assaults over the course of a year and a half. It took until the fifth one to connect it as a series – as it was the same guy. But the first four assaults, they didn’t release any information to the public. There were these assaults and no information. The fifth one – now all of a sudden there’s information just because of the series. John Gardner assaults Candace Moncayo in December of 2009, and we all know what happened two months later with the tragedy of Chelsea King. There were just inconsistent warnings. They were flying helicopters over neighborhoods, they were broadcasting to those neighborhoods via the helicopter – “Hey, be careful. There’s somebody out there that we are looking for.” This happened, but that was it.

JOYCE: How does the Police department respond?

BLACHER: They say they did the best they could with the information they had. There’s clearly no malicious intent here, I mean, they were doing the best that they could. It’s just their policy is to leave it up to the lead detective whether or not they want to release information, whether or not they want to protect the public by arming them with information, or whether or not they think that secrecy is the best way to protect the investigation.

JOYCE: It’s a judgment call that they make in each individual case it sounds like.

BLACHER: It is. It’s not a black and white answer. You can’t know every single time, this happened so this is what we tell the public, here’s what we release to the media, here’s what information we put out there.

JOYCE: But if you’re a victim, a parent of a victim, a friend of a victim, this is not something that sits well with you.

BLACHER: Well sure, that’s the impotence for this. The people who lived in Rancho Peñasquitos when these rapes happened, parents of teenage girls were really upset that the police department was not more proactive in telling them what happened – not revealing everything that they knew, or revealing enough to satisfy people who wanted to know how to protect their families.

JOYCE: Any indication from what you have seen so far that there might be a change in how the police go about their business related to this?

BLACHER: They stand by the way that they responded to all of these situations. They think that they did the best they could with the information they had and made the most sound decision they could to protect the public and to protect the integrity of what they were investigating and who they were trying to find.

JOYCE: Reporter Mitch Blacher with 10News I-Team, telling us San Diego Police decide on a case-by-case basis when to release information to the public regarding on-going investigations.

Comments

Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | November 12, 2011 at 10:50 a.m. ― 3 years, 1 month ago

This is a catch 22 for all. If the police speak too soon they could disrupt an investigation that could lead to capturing suspects, or create public panic. Sure they have scenarios of execution, but it's a tough job making the right call. The wrong one could help suspects evade capture.

( | suggest removal )