Will Audit Of San Diego Police Department Lead To Reform?
Friday, February 21, 2014
San Diego’s police department might soon join the list of other large city police forces under the microscope.
Police Chief William Lansdowne has proposed an external audit of his department to address the alleged officer misconduct issues.
But will an audit lead to real reforms?
"It totally depends on the nature of the audit itself,” SDSU public affairs professor Joshua Channin said.
"The devil is in the details, some of them can be built with teeth," he said. "There's one in Philadelphia that's ongoing where the Department of Justice has a stake in the outcome and has threatened the police department with coming in and installing an outside monitor, if in fact the police doesn't make the changes that were stipulated in the agreement."
Channin believes an audit is a good first step and given the department’s previous misconduct allegations in 2011, it would benefit from an independent monitor too.
“There is no link necessary between an audit and reform," Channin said. "What an independent monitor would do is put pressure on the department to make dramatic changes they wouldn't otherwise make.”
Channin says an independent monitor would conduct their own audit, establish a protocol over the course of five to seven years and monitor the process of implementing recommended changes.
“In doing so, they would take some authority away from the chief and — in addition to the cost — that's what he could be balking at," Channin said.
Lansdowne has rejected the idea of bringing in an independent monitor, which he says could cost up to $1.78 million for a two-year contract.
Lansdowne favors an audit similar to the one in Las Vegas. It would take six to eight months, include external review of the department policies, seek community input and make recommendations.
"I believe we can do that same thing with good oversight and meaningful changes,” Channin said.
Whether or not San Diego's Police Department gets an independent monitor might not be up to Lansdowne.
Arevalos is serving nine years behind bars for sexually assaulting women during traffic stops in 2011.