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San Diego Program Rewarding Officers For Narcotics Arrests Investigated By Police

A San Diego Police Department vehicle, December 11, 2010.

Photo by Nathan Rupert / Flickr

Above: A San Diego Police Department vehicle, December 11, 2010.

SD Program Rewarding Officers for Narcotics Arrests Investigated by Police

GUEST:

Bishop Cornelius Bowser, Charity Apostolic Church

Transcript

The San Diego Police Department has launched an internal investigation into a planned program intended to reward officers for making drug arrests.

The program was never implemented, according to Police Chief David Nisleit. But an email was sent out detailing how it would work and that has raised questions with some people in the community.

News 8 spoke to the organizer Tasha Williamson earlier who says there are still questions about why the email was sent in the first place.

"Somebody did this thinking they could get away with this," Williamson said. "Anyone who is in a command or supervisory position - we need to take a second look at."

RELATED: San Diego Police Chief Repudiates Arrest-Rewards Program

Williamson is a civil rights activist who says the goal of the protest is to send a message to the police department that a full, transparent investigation is necessary.

The issue came to light this week when an anonymous SDPD officer divulged, in an interview with KPBS Media Partner 10News, that rewards were being offered to officers who made the most drug arrests in the department's Southern Division, which covers such border-area neighborhoods as Egger Highlands, Nestor, Ocean Crest, Otay Mesa, Palm City, San Ysidro and Tijuana River Valley.

An email that a sergeant sent to more than 90 officers detailed the system, which promised top-performing personnel the chance to work in a desirable specialized police-unit post for up to a month, the news station reported.

According to the memorandum, between March 1 and April 14, officers could earn two points for arrests of certain drug suspects, including dealers, one point for "less serious" narcotics enforcement and half a point for controlled-substance citations.

Nisleit held a news conference on Friday disavowing the program and saying the program was never authorized, never implemented and was never intended to target a specific race or socioeconomic class. The chief promised to find out how and why the email was sent out.

"I believe the chief when he says the program was never implemented," Williamson said. "What I don't understand, as lieutenants and captains, how do you not know the approval protocol?"

Williamson is also demanding that the officer who came forward to the media not be punished for what he did.

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